AWARD-WINNING BLOG

Getting on the Same Page When Your Co-parent Gets Triggered

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators — taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

You want to get on the same page with your co-parent, but when they get triggered, it’s really hard to do. Here are some quick thoughts about handling things when your co-parent tends to react when raising complex kids.

Diane:
So one of the parents wrote about the fact that their biggest challenge is their co-parent getting triggered. Like yelling at their kids more than they want to and they end up in the middle of it trying to defend their child. And then it's like this whirlwind of emotions.

Elaine:
I hear this a lot from parents in our programs. They're starting to use the coach approach and it's working, but their partner hasn't come along yet.They haven't gotten there quite yet.

Diane:
So the first piece of it is don't take the bait.

Elaine:
Don't take the bait. Can we say that again?

Diane & Elaine:
Don't take the bait.

Diane:
And in this case it might mean that you need to calm your mama bear. Or papa bear. If you're in there going, oh my gosh, my partner, my spouse is yelling at my child, or they're yelling at me. If you get triggered and you end up in it, your ability to problem solve is going to be completely different. And that's really the most important piece with triggers: you've got to stay in problem solving mode, and you can't do that if you're triggered yourself,

Elaine:
So you've really got to not let that yelling or upset or whatever, take you away from whatever it is you're doing. Because it becomes a great deflection, and it takes you away from addressing the issue or the challenge that you're trying to address.

Diane:
And the second piece of it is really kind of talking about triggers as a family. And this can be a really great way to not point the finger at one person, whether it's your kid or your partner or whoever it is. The minute they get on the defensive, "Oh, you're yelling at Johnny too much," their ability to kind of really solve and solution is going to be very different. But if everybody gets triggered -- and we all do -- and you talk about, well this is what mom needs when mom gets triggered and this is what a sibling needs when they get triggered, it's this sort of conversation about trigger management as a family. It can really normalize it and help you to take the focus off of the one person that might be a little bit more intense than the others.

Elaine:
Well, and I think a great way to do that is if you're the one that tends to be calmer, is to be able to say at dinner one night, "you know, I got really triggered today." To tell on yourself. Right? To sort of normalize all of us do, and to raise a conversation when it doesn't put other people on the defensive cause it's about us not them.

Diane:
Well, and one of the things you said was, a lot of times parents feel very isolated because they feel like they're the only one that's focused on fixing the challenge.

Elaine:
So the other thing I want to say about this is besides don't take the bait, really, and become aware of triggers, is that it only takes one parent to turn the tide. I tell this story a lot on my husband, but when I started doing this work and using the coach approach, it took a couple of years for my husband to really get on board with us. And when I finally asked him after that, what changed? He looked at me sheepishly and said, "you know, I couldn't deny anymore that what you were doing was working." But for a couple of years he was fighting me on it, right? And, and we had a lot of these issues going on and we weren't co-parenting well around it because we were at odds and I just stayed the course. I didn't focus on him and his upsets. I stayed focused on how I was supporting the kids. And he finally came around when he was able to see how effective it was.

Diane:
So: don't take the bait. Talk about triggers as a family. And

Elaine:
patience with the process. It only takes one to begin to turn the tide.

 

Stay Up to Date

Get our newest tips, articles & videos
delivered to your inbox.
Click Here!

More Maintain Healthy Relationships