Effective communication is key for parents after divorce. This can be challenging if the two of you got into negative habits in the last stages of your marriage. Further, you may still have some anger and distrust that can prevent you from communicating positively and clearly with your co-parent. For your children’s sake, however, it’s essential to focus on the building blocks of healthy, effective communication.
Words, tone and delivery matter.
Of course, you need to refrain from name calling, swearing and yelling. Even without those things, likely, you and your co-parent know how to push each other’s buttons. Don’t do that. Avoid saying things that can be misconstrued.
Some parents need to avoid face-to-face communication at first. However, written communication can be a minefield as well. Avoid caps, bold letters, underlining and quotation marks that can come across as demanding or sarcastic. Be clear about what you’re saying.
Don’t respond to a text or email in anger. If it makes you angry or you feel like you’ve been insulted, give yourself time to cool off before you respond. Don’t engage in rehashing past wrongdoings or hurts. Focus on what you need to communicate now as it relates to your kids.
Don’t forget to listen.
Pay attention to what your co-parent is telling you. Don’t assume you know what they want or what they’re going to say. With written communication, “listen” to what they’re saying by thoroughly reading and possibly rereading it. A lot of arguments can be avoided by taking the time to thoroughly and accurately understand what your co-parent is saying and at least considering their side of an issue or their request before responding.
Consistent communication is key. The more you keep each other informed about the kids, the less likely it is that anyone will feel left out. Even if the only way the two of you can communicate is through a journal on a shared parenting app, at least be consistent with providing necessary updates about medical appointments, school projects and other activities or concerns you have about problems the kids may be experiencing.
Many communication issues can be avoided by having a detailed custody agreement and parenting plan in place. This can minimize confusion and conflict as well as the need to communicate about basic things like scheduling. Your attorney can help you as you work out this agreement.