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Toxic ex in coparenting situation

Reb86's picture

I am new here and hopefully I've found the right outlet to allow me to vent from time to time and to gain some insight and guidance from those who have been there. 
I've no kids of my own and marrying into my new Family with two stepchildren. A 16-year-old boy who has his own vehicle and comes over when he wants which is nice and a six-year-old girl that we have 50% of the time.  Both are great kids, smart, loving and kind.

There are some frustrations and issues related to the six-year-old and how coddled and spoiled she is, but I'll save that topic for another day.

Have any of you dealt with coparenting with a toxic ex? The six-year-old's mother is the toxic narcissistic ex that I am referring to and it has been a nightmare and continues to be a major factor in my stress and anxiety. She's also creating a codependent people pleaser in the way that she parents. Now I know I have no control over her or how she parents and I really feel like I have no place trying to facilitate change at least not assertively at this point so with that I will bide my time and handle with kid gloves but how do you guys deal with the frustrations? What are your coping mechanisms? Is it this forum to come on here and vent?  Wish there was a group of straight step moms i could meet on zoom once a month or something! 


JRI's picture

Welcome! Most of us have dealt with toxic exes so you're in the right place.  I'm 79 and vividly recall our late BM who never failed to make any situation worse.   Plenty of the other STers will jump in,  I'm sure.  Good luck!  


Yesterdays's picture

Yes come here and vent! We've been through it all.... And yes a lot of people with narcissistic and toxic exs that are very hard to coparent with. Lots of sage advice to be had. 

Yesterdays's picture

As far as bio mom to those step kids... Then onus would be on your partner to deal with her. I hope that you have her blocked. If not, block her.

How has he been with communication with her? What sort of issues have there been? Is he good at handling conflict with her? Do they have a court order? On here you typically find a lot of Disneyland dads that spoil their kids and guilty dads that parent out of fear and it creates problematic kids 

Reb86's picture

Wow! I appreciate all the replies! Thank you! Communication with bio mom has been trying. For the first 10 months of our relationship she screamed obscenities at me from her car while meeting to pick up skid. She has no issue yelling, cursing and bad mouthing in front of skid either. I refused to engage at all until she could be civil. At 10 months in she finally decided she could be civil (fairly). Then started the efforts of manipulation and bad mouthing my partner to me as a means to continue to try and run me off. 

At 2+ years in, she may have finally realized that I'm not going anywhere. Skid wants to please mommy and so when she feels like mommy's mood is to hate daddy, skid will tell her mom about the things she does with me. Bio mom then uses that to try and parent shame my partner. 

Bio mom has also made it very clear that she's happier with her daughter if her daughter doesn't really like me so when skid is just with us, she's lovable and fun and playful but if mom's around I am avoided. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not worried about my feelings and whether or not skid likes me, I know that she loves me and as an adult I can handle the times that she is distant because I know why it is that she is, but it hurts my heart for her that she feels and is intuitive enough to feel that she can't be herself because it would make mom upset   

Bio mom can influence skid simply by not liking something and she cannot like something just to spite us so for example, skid is extremely athletic, especially for six-year-old and we continued to say she should try basketball or softball or any sport for that matter  BUT because her bio mom hates going to the ball gym skid for months and months flat out refused ...if you even brought it up, she just yelled "no!".  

i could go on and into detail about the depths that this woman went to try and run me off but thankfully we are beyond that at this point... at least i think...

hereiam's picture

There really is no co-parenting with toxic people. You just do the best that you can when the kids are with you.

My husband just continued to parent his daughter as he always had. He tried to teach her independence, did not coddle her, and certainly didn't spoil her. Unfortunately, my SD grew up to be just like her mother, a co-dependent.

Reb86's picture

This I am learning. She hides behind the guise of her child best interest however it's always clear that is not the case. It is whatever feeds her ego most. Making her codependent is definitely part of it that feeds her ego and she can't even see the harm it's causing. 

Reb86's picture

This is one of my fears... that my SD ends up just like her mother, codependent, narcissistic and hateful. I hope to be the positive influence as does my SO but there are days it's so overwhelming and exhausting. Right now my SD thinks the world revolves around her and her every wish. I never want to diminish joy but I'm not coddling and spoiling. Something I'm working on with SO because he has "being the bad parent" guilt when bio mom coddles and gives in for everything. 
When SD turned 6 is when I suggested to my SO that SD should be sleeping in her own bed and not with us. He didn't feel it would fly because she sleeps with biomom every night but I didn't back down. It took months and a lot of frustration and we would make progress only to start over again after bio moms manipulation . Eight months had passed and I thought there was no end in sight ...then i found the hatch and a breathing otter and i told her she wasn't allowed to leave her bed anymore and SO backed me (thankfully) and we've had blissful sleep since! 

Rags's picture

Welcome. I hope that you find this to be a good place to vent, contribute, and to pick up some useful advice from others who are living the blended family dream.

That said, be cautious on ascribing the title of "great kid" on kids who are the product of a failed family.  That proof is lived over time.

As for coping. The way we did it was to set and enforce standards of behavior and hold the kid (my Skid) accountable to compliance with those standards from the minute he arrived in our home until he left to go to SpermLand on visitation.  We evolved to this point because we ran out of patience for the pre visitation behavioral degredation and post visitation behavioral detox over the first several years of our marriage. So, instant and full compliance was pretty much our critical coping method and one of the critical success factors in keeping our marriage our priority through the 16+ years we lived under the Custody/Visitation/Support CO.

My DW had full physical and legal custody the whole time.  The Spermidiot had a visitation schedule.

The toxic opposition is not your or your mates coparenting partner.  You can't fix toxic so don't even try.  You and your partner set and enforce boundaries and standards in your home.  Those standards are the best counter to crap parenting in the opposition. Give the Skids the facts, in an age appropriate manner, regarding any manipulations that BM plies.  The facts are the best counter to a manipulating crap parent on the other side of the Skid's life.

Good luck.


Reb86's picture

This!!! "pre visitation behavioral degredation and post visitation behavioral detox"

Thank you for articulating this! It is certainly felt I just didn't have the words. 

Harry's picture

Unless SO stands up to his ex and takes control of all of this.  You are in for a failed relationship.  He must get his DK in line. And you as the most important part of his life.  I woukd refuse to be second or third to a bunch of kids and ex.  You are in a no win situation. You can't live life this way