Managing Your Life with a High Conflict CoParent

Uncategorized Apr 22, 2020

©2019 Megan Hunter and Andrea LaRochelle

How to get off the emotional roller coaster and understand triggers and resulting response patterns so you can reclaim your life

The High-Conflict Co-Parent Survival Guide found its own path as Andrea and I explored the options. Over time we realized that we were attempting to write a book that had already been written by others.

What hadn't been written was a book that specifically focused on parents involved in raising children with someone who exhibits high conflict behaviors. That parent can go to any number of books for strategic legal help but there seemed to be no books on how to take care of yourself when going through a devastating, depressing, demoralizing life event with no roadmap. Going from being in love and having children with someone to dreading (or even fearing) their very presence is a lot to absorb and deal with.

That's why we wrote this book.We want to help parents recognize that they need to take care of themselves and to identify the emotions they may be suppressing too much or not knowing how to deal with. Being a parent requires sacrifice, but not at your own expense. A healthy parent translates to better decision-making for your family. Ultimately, everyone benefits.

As far as the structure of the book is concerned, the beginning pages contain a few tips on communicating with a co-parent, which can and should be referred back to often. Then we've laid out weekly lessons and checklists to help keep the reader thinking about self-care and processing the difficult emotions and scenarios that parents have already experienced and those that continue to pop up. We trust the book will be a positive and stabilizing resource. It's not a cure for dealing with a high-conflict co-parent, but it's a way to keep yourself sane and maybe even find some joy along the way! 

From Andrea LaRochelle, RFM

How is the High-Conflict Co-Parenting Survival Guide any different from all the other high conflict co-parenting books on the market?
Good question!
Megan and I wanted to explore how we could best support the parent who is trying to co-parent with someone who presents as high conflict.  We combine the invaluable skills created by the High Conflict Institute:

  • Flexible thinking,
  • managed emotions
  • moderate behavior 

with step-by-step *how do I do this in real life* scenario’s.  It’s one thing to be able to use flexible thinking and manage your emotions when you aren’t in a triggered or heightened state, but so often we’re finding that once someone is triggered, all their learned skills go out the window.  And when people react in the moment, once the trigger settles, then the guilt, shame, remorse, anger and resentment creep in.  It’s one heck of a roller coaster with so many slow climbs to the top, faster than fast plummets to the bottom and more loop de loops than one human body can manage. 
Oh, and what no one tells you is that the roller coaster isn’t 1 ticket = 1 ride.  The roller coaster is for life.  
But it doesn’t have to be.
Your high conflict co-parent isn’t going to change, ever.  They may present as nice for a week or two, get your hopes up that change is possible, only to cut you off at the knees with a sledge hammer a few days later.  (See chapter 26 – Hope)  

Or your high conflict co-parent may send you 15 emails a day criticizing you and your parenting skills with such subtle and yet blatant manipulations that you become paralyzed for fear of doing the wrong thing and being taken back to court.  (See Chapter 6 – Perfect, Week 9 – Indecision, Week 13 - Paralyzed and Week 24 – The Voice)

What Megan and I set off to accomplish with this book was to help our readers get off the darn emotional roller coaster.  To help them understand their conscious and sub conscious triggers and resulting response patterns.

If you don’t know why you do something, how can you stop?

This book highlights the often missed or undervalued feelings that accompany what it’s like to co-parent with someone high conflict.  Feelings are powerful and can be used for good or evil, depending on how they are harnessed.  But before you can harness them, you have to know what triggered them in the first place.

“Great, I know my triggers.  Now what?”

There is a simple exercise in our book called The Two Minute Tango founded in the Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory that when you move a feeling you don’t become the feeling.

How often do people define themselves by the feeling they are having?  “I’m so angry.”  “I’m depressed.”  “I’m so anxious I can’t sleep.”  “I’m so happy I could scream.”  And when we’re in a feeling, any feeling, our ability to use flexible thinking diminishes tenfold.

The Two Minute Tango allows you to move the 5 core emotions (Grief, Anger, Over-excited, Worry & Fear) quickly (in two minutes) so you can move any and all triggered feelings in 120 seconds.  And if you aren’t stuck in a feeling?  Hello flexible thinking!

It takes more than 120 seconds to load yourself onto the roller coaster that will make you nauseous, dizzy and terrified.  Isn’t it worth it to give yourself 120 seconds to move the triggered feelings so you can choose not to get on the roller coaster?

This book was created to give the reader their sanity back, to get off the fast moving emotional roller coaster of high conflict co-parenting reclaim their life – one week at a time.

Andrea LaRochelle is an author, trainer, and speaker with the High Conflict Institute and serves on the board of the Alberta Family Mediation Society. She is a high conflict co-parenting expert and a registered mediator with over fifteen years experience helping families through the challenges of separation and divorce. She teaches co-parenting communication and guides parents to manage conflict more effectively, so their kids can focus on being kids.

Andrea’s published books include: The High-Conflict Co-Parenting Survival Guide; I’m Done!: Take Control of Your High Conflict Divorce; and the Goodbye Bugs children's series (Goodbye Angry Bugs, Goodbye Teary Bugs, and Goodbye Worry Bugs).

High Conflict Institute CEO & Co-founder Megan Hunter is a speaker, author, and international expert on high-conflict disputes, complicated relationships, and Borderline Personality Disorder. She has over 13 years experience as the Family Law Specialist with the Arizona Supreme Court, and Child Support Manager of the Dawes County Attorney’s Office in Nebraska.


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