Regular communication between co-parents is essential to their kids' well-being. That's particularly true when you share custody. It doesn't have to be face-to-face communication. In fact, if the two of you still have difficulty interacting, it may be best to keep the communication written. However, it's important that it be timely, accurate and complete.
If you're in doubt about whether your co-parent needs to know something, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you'd expect them to share that information with you if your situations were reversed.
No responsible parent sets out to harm their child. However, when parents fail to communicate important information or let their negative feelings toward each other interfere with productive communication, they often do just that.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for all communication -- whether in person, by phone or via text or email:
- Stay focused on the subject at hand. Don't rehash old issues or grudges.
- Keep it courteous and even business-like. Don't criticize, blame, swear, insult or write in capital letters. A good rule is to imagine that someone else will hear or read what you've said.
- Don't jump to conclusions. If you're not sure what your co-parent meant, ask for clarification. Don't overreact or assume that you're being criticized or insulted.
- Don't make demands. Remember to say "please" and "thank you." Even if your co-parent hasn't mastered those niceties, at least with you, that's no reason not to cooperate. Remember that your focus needs to be on what's best for your children.
You may not like your ex, but it's essential to show them respect. After all, they're your child's parent, too.
If you and your co-parent are unable to communicate effectively and it's impacting your children, talk with your attorney to find out if adding more specificity to your parenting plan might minimize your need for direct communication. They may also have some other suggestions for improving your communication with your co-parent.