Tip 2: Improve Communication
Respectful, consistent, and purposeful communication with your co-parent is essential to the success of co-parenting — even though it may seem absolutely unbearable. Approach communication with a positive mindset. Think about communication with your co-parent as having the most important purpose: your child’s well-being. Before contact with your co-parent, ask yourself how your communication will affect your child, and be determined to conduct yourself with dignity. Make your child the focal point of every discussion you have with your co-parent.
Remember that it is not always necessary to meet your co-parent in person. Speaking over the phone or exchanging texts or emails is fine for the majority of conversations. The goal is to establish conflict-free communication, so explore which type of contact works best for you. You may review my previous post (https://steven-storrs.squarespace.com/config/pages) for some digital options to assist in coordinating your shared parenting time schedules, access your child's important medical details, store all communications, and more.
Co-parenting Communication Methods
Once you have determined your preferred system to communicate, the following methods can help you initiate and maintain effective communication:
· Set a business-like tone. Approach the relationship with your co-parent as a business partnership where your “business” is your children’s well-being. Speak or write to your co-parent as you would a colleague—with cordiality, respect, and neutrality. Relax and talk slowly.
· Listen. Communicating with maturity starts with listening. Even if you end up disagreeing with the other parent, you should at least be able to convey to your co-parent that you have understood his or her point of view. And listening does not imply approval, so you will not lose anything by allowing your co-parent to voice his or her opinions.
· Make requests. Instead of making statements, which can be misinterpreted as demands, try framing as much as you can as requests. Requests can begin "Would you be willing to…?" or “Can we try…?”
· Show restraint. Keep in mind that communicating with one another is going to be necessary for the length of your children's entire childhood, if not longer. You can train yourself to not overreact to your co-parent, and over time you can become numb to the buttons they try to push.
· Commit to communicating consistently. Though it may be extremely difficult in the early stages, frequent communication with your co-parent will convey the message to your children that you and your co-parent are a united front.
· Keep conversations kid-focused. Never let a discussion with your co-parent digress into a conversation about your needs or his/her needs; it should always be about your child's needs only.
· Quickly relieve stress in the moment. It may seem impossible to stay calm when dealing with a difficult co-parent who has hurt you in the past or has a real knack for pushing your buttons. But by practicing quick stress relief techniques, you can learn to stay in control when the pressure builds.
Improving the Relationship With Your Co-parent
If you are truly ready to rebuild trust after a break up, be sincere about your efforts. Remember your children’s best interests as you move forward to improve your relationship.
Ask your co-parent’s opinion. This simple technique can jump-start positive communications between you. Take an issue that you do not feel strongly about, and ask for your co-parent’s opinion, showing that you value his/her involvement.
Apologize. When you are sorry about something, apologize sincerely, even if the incident happened a long time ago. Apologizing can be very powerful in moving your relationship away from being adversaries.
Be Generous. If a special outing with your co-parent is going to cut into your time with your child by an hour, graciously let it be. Remember that it is all about what is best for your child. Plus, when you show flexibility, your ex is more likely to be flexible with you.
If you found this information helpful, please browse the blog for additional tips for successful co-parenting and look forward to upcoming tips.
It is important to consult with an Attorney if you are preparing for a divorce involving children or you think that there has been a change in circumstances that should result in a new Custody or Parenting Time Order.
If you have questions regarding custody of your children, please call me, Attorney Steven Storrs, at 269-945-2242 or click here to contact me to set up an appointment to discuss your options.
*This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney before making important decisions regarding your individual situation.