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Avoiding conflict with your co-parent doesn't help your kids

Some people seem to thrive on conflict. Others try to avoid it at all costs. If you fall into the latter category or maybe you just had enough conflict during your marriage, you may be hesitant to confront your ex-spouse on issues involving your children.

Conflict avoidance is not the same as conflict resolution. It often leads to a lack of communication, which can allow problems to worsen. It can also lead to one or both parents being out of the loop on important things that are going on with their kids -- both their problems and their accomplishments.

The key is for co-parents to handle conflict in a healthy manner. If you have to address an issue on which the two of you disagree, remain confident but composed. Practice what you have to say ahead of time and focus on keeping your tone calm.

This applies even if you're addressing an issue in writing. The co-parenting app Our Family Wizard even has something called a ToneMeter in its messaging system that acts as an "emotional spell-check" to alert the writer to potentially emotionally-charged sentences.

Whether you're communicating with your co-parent verbally or in writing, if your tone and words are contentious, he or she may be resistant to what you're trying to say and immediately become defensive.

Healthy communication is a two-way street. While it's important to voice your ideas, you also need to listen to and consider your co-parent's side. You may not be as far apart in what you want as you think you are.

If you and your co-parent find yourself avoiding conflict regularly or engaged in conflict that resolves nothing, it may be worthwhile to seek professional guidance from a family therapist. You may also decide to try parallel parenting for a time -- particularly if you're in the early stages of your divorce where your negative feelings toward one another are preventing you from being good co-parents.

Your Arizona family law attorney can likely recommend some good family therapists in your area. He or she can also help you make changes to your parenting plan if you feel that switching to a parallel parenting arrangement would be best for your kids. Remember that ultimately your children's best interests need to take priority.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Why Avoiding Conflict isn't the Same as Resolving It," accessed April 11, 2018

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