Written by: Samantha Redd, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
The best advice when you have a narcissist or toxic person in your life is to avoid them. And yes, that is the best advice you can get, but what if the toxic person is the father or mother to your child? If you attempt to ignore the other parent, the courts will label you as hostile and unwilling to co-parent, which will be detrimental in your child custody case.
Hence, I prefer two communication methods if you have children and dealing with a toxic parent. The first one is the yellow rock communication style. Tina Swithin first coined the phrase yellow rock. The point was to be as dull as a rock, so the toxic parent gets bored and moves on to his next target, and yellow because you throw in phrases like "please" and "thank you." If this communication style were something you order in a restaurant, it would be boring with a side of polite formality.
The second style is Bill Eddy’s BIFF communication. BIFF stands for Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. If you want to explain something to a toxic parent and go more than five sentences, you are not being brief! It is also helpful to be firm by offering at max two choices for any given situation and not leaving things open-ended.
I like combining both yellow rock with Bill Eddy's BIFF communication. Also, having canned phrases are a great go-to if you find yourself in a fight or flight situation. The phrases will help you not end up agreeing to something you didn't want, just to get away from the other person when face-to-face encounters are toxic, and you might later regret your decision.
I find it beneficial to have several canned phrases in my back pocket. These phrases will give me more time to think about what is being proposed, especially if the toxic parent likes to surprise you with last-minute requests. No matter how hard it might be, please do not ignore them. By responding, you are seen as a parent willing to co-parent and create a positive relationship with the other parent.
The toxic parent will often try to force you into a decision immediately, but it can wait unless it is an emergency. Examples of some communication styles would be, "thank you for bringing that to my attention; let me think about it and give you an answer by the end of the week” or, "thanks for letting me know your thoughts; I will consider them and respond via text by the end of the week." If what is being suggested by the other parent is one of your non-negotiables, I would say, "I appreciate the offer, but I'm going to have to say no; plans have been made that can't be changed."
These tips are essential because they are the beginnings of establishing healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries begin to allow us to heal from the trauma inflicted by the other parent. Still, it also provides us with a chance to demonstrate healthy behaviors for our children, and after all, isn't this why we do what we do!
Samantha Redd, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Samantha Redd is an expert in trauma recovery through using shadow work and her death doula training. She works with moms who are domestic violence survivors in high conflict divorce by using a mix of real-world experience and a unique view of spirituality to educate, heal, inspire, protect, and rebuild her clients and help them find their purpose. Samantha has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and uses her expertise in that field to help her clients understand the link between stress and sickness. In addition, she has dedicated her life to helping people recover from loss and find their way back to their true selves as a way of honoring the growth that comes with that loss. She is also the CEO of Decoding the System and has been helping people with grief for 20 years. Samantha is also a high conflict divorce survivor and wears a mask and pen name because she can only be present and a light for others by hiding in the darkness.