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What to Do When Your Ex Uses the Kids to Hurt You

by Ashlea Campbell

If your ex uses your children against you, you may feel as though you're in a hopeless situation. This is especially true if your children begin to treat you differently or share the views of the other parent. You may feel as though you are not a good parent, and validate your ex's feelings.

Set Boundaries

It is important to set boundaries for yourself and for your children. This will prevent you from becoming even more of a pawn in your ex's plans. This is especially true if you think your ex might be dangerous. If you usually pick up your children at your ex's house or he or she drops them off, plan to meet at a neutral place or make sure that someone is there to supervise. Make sure that your ex and your children completely understand what you are willing and not willing to do.

Provide a Stable Environment

Set a routine and stick to it. Your children may not have a stable environment when they're with the other parent. Focus on doing your best to provide your children with a stable environment that includes a steady routine. If possible, live close to your children so that you can provide support if they need it. While your ex may poison them with lies about your character, show that you still love them by remaining active in their lives if possible. Also, refrain from speaking ill of your ex to them.

Find Support

Consider talking to a therapist if what you're experiencing becomes too much. You may not be able to change your ex's behavior, but having someone to vent to and help you process your emotions will help you remain sane. Also, consider having your children see a therapist as well. Mark Bansick, M.D., explains, "A child or adolescent therapist can give your son or daughter a safe place to sort out their feelings about you and your ex."

Know When to Let Go

The saddest realization is that your ex's perceptions of you become a reality for your children. "Most egregious of all the injury to fathers, mothers and children (nobody wins in these cases as we all know), is the perception that becomes reality where a child can say: 'I don't like you and I don't want to see you anymore,'" explains Lorne Caplan, author of "What to Do When Your Ex Is Turning Your Child Against You." Unfortunately, your ex may successfully turn your children against you. Remember that this does not mean you are a bad parent. Give your children their space and focus on finding what makes you happy. Remember that you deserve happiness as well.

About the Author

Ashlea Campbell writes about families, relationships and health-related issues. In addition to writing professionally, she teaches writing courses at Collin College in Plano, Texas. She holds a Masters degree in English education from the University of Kansas.

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