Most people think of coparenting as a situation where two parents work together to raise their children. However, coparenting can look very different for some families where the coparenting is abusive and coercive. This is where one parent tries to control or manipulate the other parent by creating a turbulent power struggle. If you're in a coparenting relationship with a high-conflict coparent, it's important to be aware of these signs to protect yourself and your children.
Here Are 10 Signs Your Coparent Is Using Coercion:
1. You feel like you have to agree to everything your coparent suggests, even if you don't want to.
When you're coparenting, it's important to remember that you're not always going to see eye-to-eye. Yet, it's essential to try and reach a compromise whenever possible based on the children’s needs. If you tend to constantly agree to things you don't want, it may be time to have a conversation with your coparent about what you are willing or unwilling to accept.
Setting healthy coparenting boundaries will have you going from feeling voiceless to powerful.
Getting to the root of your coparents concerns as to how come they want something done a certain way is key in positioning a resolution. Remember, you're both working towards the same goal: what's best for your child(ren). Therefore, it's essential that you openly communicate with honesty with each other through calm, but firm business-like communication.
2. Your coparent threatens to go to court if you don't do what they want.
Going to court can be daunting for any parent, but especially for parents who are already struggling to coparent effectively. If your coparent threatens to go to court, it may simply be they are feeling frustrated and hopeless about the situation. When a manipulator feels powerless against the other person, this is when they will resort to threats in order to get their way.
Going to court should be a last resort. If you and your coparent can speak amiably, requesting family mediation is the best option for resolving matters outside of the courtroom.
3. Your coparent tries to control what you do during your visitation time with your child.
It can be difficult to deal with a coparent who tries to regulate what you do during your parenting time with your child. A coparent who is constantly checking in, calling the kids numerous times, and excessively texting is clearly disrupting your parenting time.
To help eliminate your coparent knowing what goes on during your parenting time, establish communication boundaries for call times between parent-child. This will help reduce communication and awareness of your activities. Also, refrain from telling your coparent the least amount of information possible if they are set on ruining traveling, holiday gatherings, family outings, or birthdays. A highly-conflictual person will find a way to make themselves the center of special events.
4. Your coparent denies access to making important decisions or essential information about your child, such as medical records or school progress reports.
It can be incredibly frustrating when your coparent denies you access to essential information or important decisions about your child. However, it's important to remember that you have options. If you're being denied access to your child's medical records or school information you can request access directly through doctors, school, or appropriate parties.
Also, you will want to ensure in your parenting plan states that both parents have access to this information and have the authority to make doctor's appointments, etc. In the instance a coparent is in violation of the parenting plan, make sure to document the withholding of this information should you need to seek counsel.
5. Your coparent regularly interrupts your time with your child with excessive phone calls in order to assert their authority.
It can be frustrating when your coparent regularly interrupts your time with your child in order to assert their authority. However, it's important to remember that this behavior is likely a projection of their own insecurities. Insecurity can be a normal reaction, but it's important to not let it dictate your behavior.
Instead, try to have an honest conversation with your coparent about how their micro-managing behavior is impacting you and your child and set healthy communication boundaries. If they are unwilling to listen or change their behavior, then you may need to consider seeking outside support to help resolve the situation, like a Coparenting Coach. Either way, it's important to remain calm and constructive in your communication in order to maintain a healthy relationship with your coparent for the sake of your child.
6. Your coparent refuses to let you see your child unless you do what they want.
If you have a coparent who is refusing to let you see your child unless you do what they want, it can be difficult to know what to do. The first step is to try to talk to your coparent and make them aware of your parenting time. Parental alienation is the quickest way for a coparent to lose parenting time and custody.
If making them aware of your rights doesn't work, you may need to consider taking legal action or call authorities. First, make sure you have a strong case by gathering evidence that shows your coparent is preventing you from seeing your child without good reason. You should also get in touch with a lawyer who specializes in coparenting cases and who can help you understand your options. Taking legal action can be a drawn-out and difficult process, but it may be the best way to ensure that you are able to see your child. Emergency orders can also be filed if your parenting time is being withheld.
7. Your coparent makes false accusations against you in order to gain custody or visitation rights.
When divorced or separated parents can’t agree on decision-making for the children, they sometimes make false accusations against each other in order to gain an advantage to manipulate in their favor. These accusations can include claims of child abuse, domestic violence, child endangerment, neglect, substance abuse, or mental illness.
While many of these accusations can be difficult to deal with, it’s important to remember that they are often made up to leverage and provoke a reaction out of you. If a high-conflict coparent can get a reaction then they can find a way to flip the script on you. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to gather evidence that refutes the claims made against you. By taking a calm and proactive approach, you can protect your rights and maintain your relationship with your child.
8. Your coparent refuses to pay support or pay for half of the children’s expenses.
If you are a divorced or separated parent, you may have experienced the frustration of dealing with a coparent who refuses to pay child support or contribute to other expenses. While this can be a difficult situation, it is important to remember that you have options. If your coparent is employed, you may be able to collect support through the court system.
Keep documentation for every month they don’t pay along with outstanding expenses for medical, school, extracurricular, counseling, etc. Many times you can recoup these expenses through the court system.
9. You coparent tries to turn the children against you and belittles you in front of the children.
In a divorce or separation, it's not uncommon for one parent to try to turn the children against the other. This can take many forms, from belittling or slandering the other parent in front of the children to making false accusations of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, this hostile behavior can have a lasting effect on the children, as it’s psychological abuse.
Children may start to believe the negative things they're hearing about the other parent, and this can damage their relationship with that parent. In some cases, the children may even start to view themselves as the problem between their parents. If you're dealing with a coparent who is trying to turn the children against you, it's important to get your kids into counseling or coaching. Children who feel stuck in the middle of their parents tend to struggle with identity issues, inability to trust and form relationships, and lack of self-esteem.
It will be vital to reducing conflict by staying calm and respectful when around the high-conflict coparent in front of the children to avoid arguments. If possible, document any instances of negative behavior so you can show them to a lawyer.
10. Your coparent refuses to allow the children to engage in activities, spend time with friends, and hold back the children developmentally.
It can be challenging when your co-parent refuses to let your children take part in school activities, see their friends, or engage in extracurriculars that help them develop. It is important to remember that your children are not possessions, but rather individuals with their own rights and needs. The coercive coparent will typically try to hold their children back developmentally because they fear losing control over their children. They view their children as extensions of their ego and that they must do as they say.
It is also crucial to remember that you are not powerless in this situation. You can talk to your co-parent directly and try to negotiate a resolution by addressing their concerns. If that does not work, you can consult with a mediator or attorney asking for a change in the parenting plan. Whatever route you choose, it is important to advocate for your children and ensure that their best interests are being considered.
Children have every right to develop their own personalities, interests, and identity in what gives them fulfillment and happiness.
If you find yourself in the position of coparenting with someone who is set on manipulation and control, we offer emotional support, boundary setting, as well as how to document the psychological abuse should you need to seek counsel to protect your children.