7 Co-Parenting Communication Tips
The key to positive co-parenting is communication. If you and your ex can communicate civilly, the rest will fall into place.
Could you use some co-parenting communication tips?
It is a well-known fact that the life of a child with divorced parents is not the same as the life of those with parents who are still together. But the truth is, divorce happens much more often than in the past.
And during a divorce, it is the children who tend to suffer the most. This is why it’s the job of the parents to join forces and protect their children despite their differences and make this change bearable for their children. This, of course, is a challenge on its own.
People who go through life believing that co-parenting is simple can be mistaken. “People split for a reason and most of the time, communicating daily is torture to them. Still, children need a well-established communication between their parents – that is, if they want to raise them well and without deep psychological scars from the divorce,’’ explains Sam Torres, a psychology writer at edugeeksclub.com.
All that being said, co-parenting partners have it harder than parents who raise their children under one roof. This is a challenging process that can be made easier with the following co-parenting communication tips:
7 Co-Parenting Communication Tips
1. Discuss Co-Parenting Before You Finalize the Divorce
Focusing on the divorce and details such as who keeps the furniture is less important than focusing on who will be raising the children after the divorce is finalized. Many parents rush into their divorce in hopes of finalizing it quickly without talking about the issues that may come after it.
These types of conversations can be extremely hard — and avoiding them is probably the first instinct you may have during this troublesome period. However, leaving this important matter for after the divorce will make it even more complicated.
One way to make this happen the right way is by creating a detailed parenting plan during the dispute resolution process; this plan will set out physical and legal custody, how you will handle “special days” and celebrations, and how you will resolve disputes regarding the children going forward.
2. Find the Best Way to Communicate with Your Ex
With complicated divorces, this is harder than it sounds. Some find it hard to communicate at all and wish to stop talking to their ex altogether, but this is not an option when you need to co-parent.
If you cannot talk face-to-face or on the phone without getting into a fight, try a co-parenting technology such as OurFamilyWizard.com, TalkingParents.com, or CoParently.com. You can also share a Google calendar to coordinate schedules with your ex. If you are disciplined enough to be civil when you write, you could try communicating via text messages or e-mails – but be aware that this can go downhill fast if you or your ex read a “tone” into a message that pushes your buttons. Your communication can be strictly professional, but it has to exist.
3. Minimize Conflict
You and your ex will be parents forever; as such, you are “in business” together to raise happy, healthy children. If you can shift to seeing each other as successful business partners rather than as failed romantic partners, you are better prepared to agree on what steps to take with a troubled teenage child, how to respond to a bad report card or a school notice, how to take care of your child when he is sick, and more. It is only natural to keep your “business partner” (co-parent) in the loop with what is going on, and discuss solutions to issues regarding your “business” (your children). This should help to minimize conflict.
4. Stop Bad-Mouthing Your Ex
After a divorce, you will likely have the urge to bad-mouth your ex – but, you should never, ever do this in front of your child. This is something every divorced parent must learn to avoid since it will damage your children’s self-esteem – they know that they are one-half your ex, so whatever you say is wrong with your ex, your children will think is wrong with them, too – as well as their relationship with their other parent.
5. Keep Your Focus on Your Children
Once your marriage is over, you don’t have to talk to your ex about anything except your children. Keep your focus on the kids, and have conversations with your ex only if they pertain to sharing information about your children. If you keep your communication to this level, you can minimize conflict and avoid arguments.
6. Stop Trying to Control Your Ex
Right now, only your children are under your control. Giving up on trying to control your ex is not easy – especially if you feel they are doing everything wrong – but you will have to accept it sooner or later. Your ex is no longer your business. Try not to use your children to control what your ex is up to, don’t ask too many questions, and don’t treat your children as tools for playing games.
7. Use the “10-Second Rule”
No parent is perfect and every once in a while, you’ll both make mistakes. Since you are not joined together under the same roof and you both share parenting of your children from afar, mistakes are bound to happen. When it happens, use a 10-second rule.
If your ex does something wrong (such as dropping the kids off significantly later than the agreed-upon time), take some time as well as a deep breath before you react. Reacting badly in front of the children is never good for them, nor is it good for your co-parenting relationship.
These co-parenting communication tips should help you transition to a healthy co-parenting relationship faster, but they won’t make the process easy if you have a difficult relationship with your ex. Remember that you will be co-parents for the rest of your children’s lives, so the faster you can transition to a good co-parenting relationship, the better it will be for everyone – yourself included!
Audrey Lamp is a proactive journalist who likes to get knowledge, analyze and present fresh ideas. Her background and various interests determine her genuine passion for writing. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.