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Parents   »   Are you being targeted by your co-parent?

Are you being targeted by your co-parent?

It’s difficult to be a good parent when the relationship with the co-parent is strained. That’s one of the reasons we created the Varannan Vecka-app. Here you get tips on how to think to resolve a tough situation and what you can do to calm the situation around.

If you’ve been in a long-term relationship and then leave, old negative patterns can continue into your new parenting relationship. It often takes the joy out of parenting and steals valuable energy. It’s important that toxic communication patterns cease for the sake of both children and parents.

Before we delve into what you as a parent can do to resolve a tough situation, it’s important to be aware of the following. The responsibility for insults or attacks rests entirely on the person subjecting others to unacceptable behavior. It’s also important to know and feel that there are things you can do yourself to influence a situation that is unsustainable in the long run.

If you are being subjected to criminal actions like violence or threats it is important that you contact the police and/or social services for help.

Make a plan

Step one is to become aware and understand what’s happening. In step two, you act by setting and maintaining boundaries.

1. Do inventory (create awareness)

  1. How does your contact look today? Do you meet, talk on the phone, communicate in writing?
  2. How often do you have contact?
  3. When/how often do conflicts/attacks occur?
  4. What are conflicts/attacks about? Are there specific triggers or generally low-intensity bad vibes?
  5. How do conflicts/attacks arise?
  6. How are you affected by the conflicts/attacks? How do you generally feel?
  7. Has the child reacted in any particular way? How does the co-parent seem to be feeling? Is the co-parent aware of their behavior?

Feel free to write down your observations and gather your thoughts. If you see patterns based on the questions above, use these patterns to change the contact between you.

2. Change the way you communicate (act)

Handle all contact through the Varannan Vecka-app

Gather everything about the children in the app and keep other channels completely free from contact. It provides peace, more space and a sense of control.

  • Everything written in the app is saved and cannot be manipulated or changed afterwards.
  • In the chat, there’s the AI filter TalkSafe that marks toxic language and gives the parent a chance to reconsider.
  • Invite extra people to your chat. Because it’s harder to drive conflict when others see what you’re doing.

Communicate only about matters concerning the children

If you share custody (and there are no signs of abuse etc), be mindful to share information from school, information about the children etc that the other parent also needs to know in the app. It shows that you are aware of your shared responsibility for the children and take responsibility for your cooperation in a respectful manner even if contact between you is otherwise limited.

If things become unpleasant, end the conversation for the moment and say you’ll get back later. Be mindful to get back to your co-parent the way you said you would. This calms the situation and also gives you control. If there for some reason is a change of plan for you, let your co-parent know and get back to them when you can.

If needed, limit communication to a specific time of day or week

This way, you save energy that you can spend on the children or yourself instead of on the co-parent.

If needed, handle handovers through daycare/school for a while

Get help from daycare/school for pick-ups and drop-offs if you have younger children. You can also ask someone you both trust to help with handovers if daycare/school is closed so you don’t have to see each other for a while.


After some time has passed (ideally 2-3 months), do a new inventory and see how things are now. Hopefully, there has been a significant improvement in your contact. It may also be better but not entirely good. Give it another 2-3 months and evaluate again.

If the co-parent continues as before

If there hasn’t been any change at all, consider the best way to get the parent to stop. You know your co-parent. For some, the most effective approach is to send a straightforward “stop it” email with information that you aree considering taking further action if the behavior doesn’t cease. For others, it’s better to seek external help and contact social services in your municipality for collaboration discussions or individual counseling.

Another option is to consult with an experienced family law attorney specialized in child disputes. It’s good to be informed about your own situation. At the same time, one should know that legal proceedings are very costly both financially and emotionally. In some cases, a dispute can actually worsen the situation rather than solve a problematic behavior. An assessment must be made on a case-by-case basis.

Elisabeth Scholander