Communication between co-parents is often one of greatest challenges after splitting up, with the potential to also cause the most conflict. If your relationship with your child’s other parent is less than wonderful, maintaining a business-like style of communication is critical to keeping things moving forward.
Keeping the lines of communication open when it comes to raising children creates a way for both parents to maintain active roles in the children’s lives. It also allows both parents to identify any issues that need to be dealt with and anticipate changes to the children’s schedules or the co-parenting plan.
Here are some tips we have compiled for making shared custody work through better communication:
- It’s much easier to keep emotions out of the conversation when the conversation happens in written format. It also lowers the risk of miscommunication and you can keep these conversations private between you and your ex, out of earshot of your kids.
- When talking with your ex, focus strictly on the kids. It can be difficult at first to figure out what is a real issue that needs to be discussed and what isn’t, and it can be tempting to bring up the issues that contributed to your separation or divorce every time you have to communicate with your ex–but don’t.
- A good trick is to view the other parent as a co-owner of a business–the business that is raising your children! Sure, it seems cold and impersonal, but that’s the point. Keeping communication brief, matter of fact, and straightforward will go a long way toward a positive experience for all of those involved.
- Ask yourself if you would be comfortable having a particular conversation with your ex in front of your boss. If the answer is no, it’s time to reevaluate. Take a little time before attempting the conversation again, or write an email and leave it in drafts overnight until you have a cooler head.
- Keep your opinions on the other parent to yourself. You know the old saying: if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all. Certainly never engage in undermining of the other parent, whether within earshot of your children or amongst acquaintances on Facebook—this can even have legal repercussions further down the track.
- Try not to micro-manage. If possible, set general boundaries for things like bedtimes, food habits and discipline, but don’t get too hung up on tiny details—don’t sweat the small stuff.
- As the kids get older, it can be helpful to involve them in custody decisions where appropriate. Especially when they are teenagers and extracurricular activities begin to influence your schedule more and more, shared custody situations often work out better if you allow the kids to have input about day and times they will spend with each parent.
A divorce or separation is an emotionally trying time for everyone involved, but it is important to keep communication between separated parents positive. Talking with your ex may feel like the last thing you want to do, but an open dialogue can keep everyone informed about what is going on. When parents are able to communicate effectively concerning custody issues, everyone is better off. Communicating well with your ex is the key to making shared parenting work.