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Co-Parenting Pick-Ups and Drop-Offs Without Conflict

by | Oct 11, 2023 | 0 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

If you’ve tried co-parenting pick-ups and drop-offs with a narcissist or toxic ex-partner, then you know how challenging this can be.

What a perfect time for the narcissist to cause trouble!

The tension, conflict, and potential for emotional distress during these exchanges can absolutely suck for you and your child.

Your ex may take this face-to-face opportunity to start an argument, interrogate you, or accuse you of things that aren’t true.

But there are ways you can minimize contact with your ex during pick-up and drop-off times and dodge any unnecessary arguments and conflicts!

I have been in this situation, and eliminating contact is definitely the way to go.

So let’s look at how that’s done!

Parallel Parenting: Drop-Off and Pick-Ups Without Contact

The key to co-parenting pick-up and drop-off without conflict is to employ some parallel parenting tactics – mainly reducing or eliminating communication during these times.

Parallel parenting is a parenting approach that is designed for situations where high conflict and communication breakdowns exist between co-parents.

If you want to learn more about parallel parenting, I wrote about it here (it’ll open in a new tab).

So a huge part of parallel parenting is minimizing contact between parents while making sure that the child’s well-being is the top priority.

Here’s how you can use parallel parenting to make child pick-up and drop-off work:

Neutral Locations

So important!!!

Pick a neutral location for pick-up and drop-off, such as a store parking lot – and make sure it’s somewhere public.

This will help prevent your child from feeling caught in the crossfire and provide a sense of security.

Your ex is less likely to cause a scene if there are other people around. They don’t want to risk people witnessing their tantrums.

Plus, if the spot is fairly busy, there’s more incentive to make the exchange quickly so you can both get out of there.

Set a Schedule

Make sure you establish a clear and consistent schedule for pick-up and drop-off times, preferably in writing. You don’t have to get your ex to sign anything – even just an agreement in text is enough.

You: So we’ll meet Fridays at 4 pm at {location} if that works for you.

Them: Yeah, whatever.

Boom! Agreement!

And then stick to that schedule, don’t deviate unless there’s a reasonable reason to do so. You should expect to give your ex a heads-up if you have to change the time, and they need to do the same for you.

This consistency will make things easier and ease anxiety for your child as well as reduce the chance of conflicts. 

Oh, and speaking of consistency, make sure you guys are consistently meeting in the same area. Don’t let your ex get all flippy-floppy on the location (unless they have a really good reason).

Use Technology

When it comes to parallel parenting, technology is your best friend. Texts and emails ensure that your communication is in writing and minimize direct interactions.

Share any changes through these channels, and don’t discuss anything face-to-face. Text or email it to them after the exchange is complete.

Keep Goodbyes Short and Sweet

When you pass your child over to your ex, keep your goodbyes short and sweet. A hug and a kiss, and then it’s time to go.

If you need to talk to your child about anything prior to the visit, do it before you get to the meet-up spot.

Lingering is only giving your narc ex more opportunity to start a conversation, which could easily lead to an argument.

And don’t let your ex drag out their goodbyes, either. Give them an opportunity to hug and kiss your child, and then tell them you have to get going.

If they don’t like it, remind them that their parenting time is over and you have places to be.

Sometimes you can’t 100% prevent a narcissist from throwing a tantrum, but in this situation, you can easily walk away.

Use Third Parties

If you absolutely cannot avoid a confrontation with your ex during co-parenting pick-up and drop-off, then recruit a friend or family member to facilitate the exchanges.

Or, at the very least, have one come with you. Again, narcissists don’t want witnesses to their behaviors.

Who is Responsible for Picking Up and Dropping Off Your Child?

So there’s no one answer to this question – it all depends on your situation and whether or not you have a court order.

If you do have a court order, don’t expect things to be 100% fair. In my situation, I was responsible for all of the driving simply because he didn’t have a car. He wasn’t paying child support or paying for gas, but the family law courts didn’t seem to take that into consideration.

I know of a girl who was responsible for driving her girls an hour away from home because her ex moved to a different city, and she was the one with the vehicle.

Again, don’t expect complete fairness in this situation. The courts are often more concerned with making the parenting time happen, however that may be.

But overall, it’s important to clearly define who is responsible for picking up and dropping off your child. Here are some ways that can work:

  • Parenting Plans: Parenting plans should specify the responsibilities for co-parenting pick-up and drop-off, including locations, times, and any special considerations. 
  • Court Orders: If you have a court order, as I mentioned, it will outline who is responsible for transportation. These orders are legally binding, and failing to comply can have legal consequences (unless you have a really good to change plans, like your car breaks down, etc.).

And if something happens, like you no longer have a vehicle, the first thing you should do is contact your ex and try to come up with a new arrangement.

If they become difficult, file to make changes to the court order.

Including Co-Parenting Pick-Up and Drop-Off Plans in your Parallel Parenting Plan

So to make sure your child’s pick-ups and drop-offs go smoothly, be sure to integrate these plans into your parallel parenting plan.

I know I just mentioned that, but let’s go into it in more detail:

  • Assess Your Needs: Determine your child’s needs and consider any special circumstances that might affect pick-up and drop-off arrangements. This could be things like school activities or appointments.
  • Create a Detailed Plan: Get the deets and write out a plan! Again, even if you get a vague statement of agreeance in a text message, that’s enough to create a plan.
  • Get Legal Help: If your ex is being an ass about pick-up and drop-off arrangements, talk to a lawyer. Even though a court order might not be 100% to your liking, it’s better to have a legal agreement that holds your ex accountable.
  • Sign Up For a FREE Printable Plan: Okay, shameless self-plug, but I do have a parallel parenting plan you can download. It’s helped tons of parents in your situation! Click here to check it out.

Once you do come up with a parallel parenting plan that includes co-parenting pick-up and drop-off arrangements, make sure you regularly review and update your plan to adapt to changing circumstances.

This can include addressing issues but remember that your ex is human (even if just barely) and things will happen in their lives that can cause the plan to change.

Use your better judgment, but don’t be a stick in the mud for the sake of being different or to not “give in.” If they make reasonable requests to change the arrangements, give it some thought.

(P.S.: The courts will favor the parent who shows they are making efforts to be civil and agreeable.)

Navigating Smooth Co-Parenting Pick-Ups and Drop-Offs – You’ve Got This!

Parallel parenting is a valuable strategy when it comes to co-parenting with a narcissist, and you can use this to shield your child from unnecessary conflicts during pick-up and drop-off.

It’s all about prioritizing your child’s well-being! 

But reducing your own stress is awesome too. 🙂

With the right approach and tons of patience, you can make parallel parenting work for the benefit of your child and your own peace of mind.

Do you have trouble with pick-ups and drop-offs? Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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Let’s create a supportive community and navigate the complexities of co-parenting with strength and resilience!

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