“Communication is key.” You’ve probably heard this piece of advice as you begin to transition into your role as a co-parent. However, communication is almost always easier said than done. Furthermore, it can be hard to keep that communication with your ex open, especially if you reached a bitter end. Due to these reasons, amongst others, we’ve put together some strategies to keep co-parenting communication from breaking down.
Co-Parenting Communication: Healthy Arrangements
Don’t Play The Blame Game
“He said/she said” or “He/she started it” arguments are a quick way to see your communication with your ex turn south. If your ex says something mean or nasty to you, it might be tempting to answer with something rude too. They started it, right? But what is more important: being “right” or not being miserable?
Instead of engaging, just ignore those comments that are trying to get under your skin. Keeping your actions and communication positive will let you set the tone of your conversations. It can also make your ex reconsider how they may have been acting, and lead to them making efforts to be positive when you communicate as co-parents.
Learn to Compromise
You and your ex might not agree on everything when it comes to co-parenting. Maybe you think your child should do their homework right when they get home, and maybe your ex thinks they should do it after dinner. Both of you have your reasons for why you think your way is the “best”. A great way to avoid this disagreement becoming an argument over who’s right, is to learn to compromise.
There is no “right” way to parent; everyone has different approaches. You can have your child do their homework right after school when they’re with you, and your ex can have them do it right after dinner at their place. Either way, the homework is getting done, and you avoid a potential argument. For bigger matters, like say planning for the holidays, keep it calm and try to put things in writing. That gives you time to gather your thoughts before your respond. If you lay everything out logically, then you and your ex can pick the solution that is best for everyone.
The best way to avoid misunderstandings between you and your ex is to be direct. Having other people rely messages can turn co-parenting communication into an out-of-hand game of telephone. It’s also important to avoid using your child as a go-between. They’re adjusting to their new situation just like you. Asking them to deliver messages can make them feel trapped and as if they have to “pick a side” between you and your ex. Instead, use phone calls and texts when face-to-face communication isn’t an option.