Tips for dealing with a difficult parent

Introduction

  • Even if your child’s other parent is not co-operative, keep to practicalities
  • Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t
  • Try to manage your feelings and don’t behave reactively
  • Think of things from your child’s point of view
  • Don’t focus on the past, find a solution for the future
  • Remember that people experience things differently.

Trying to be a good parent is not an easy task. You can’t be responsible for changing your child’s other parent, the only person you can change is yourself. However, the small changes that you do make can make a big difference to your parenting and to your child.

I need some time to think about this

Try to stay focused on the needs of your child and not on any strong feelings you may have about the past. Think about how you would like your child to remember this stage in their lives in a year’s time – or in 5-10 years’ time – as this can help you get a different perspective.

If you hear about things your child’s other parent has said about you, try not to jump to conclusions and over-react. Take some time to calm down and think things through.

If your child’s other parent is aggressive or critical of you in front of him/ her, try not to become reactive or retaliate, and learn how to manage your feelings. This means you’re less likely to get into a circular argument that runs out of control. If you feel overwhelmed, give yourself some time and space; avoid reacting immediately and say “I need some time to think about this.”

For example, if your child’s other parent calls you names in front of him/ her, at a later time, when you are alone with your child, talk about what happened in general terms. Let them know that sometimes people are angry with each other but it is wrong to call people names. Try to behave with integrity – although you don’t have control over the other parent’s actions, you can control how you respond.

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