Updated: Jul 18, 2019
Co-parenting after a divorce can occasionally (or, perhaps, often) be difficult. In my last post, I discussed some things parents can do to make the process easier. Today, I want to focus one vital aspect of co-parenting: communication. Below are just a few things you can do to improve your interactions with the other parent:
1. Don’t Communicate When You’re Angry. Civility is important. It is very difficult to communicate effectively when you are angry and you might trigger an equally angry response. If an issue needs to be addressed right away, take a deep breath, count to ten, and gather your thoughts before you reach out to the other parent. For issues that don’t need to be addressed immediately, write an email, but don’t send it right away. Wait until the following day, then review and revise it before sending. You may realize that you don’t actually need or want to send the message after all.
2. Ask; Don’t Demand. No one likes to be dictated to. When you frame a request as a demand, you are sending a message that your concerns are more important than those of the other parent. This has a potential to lead to pushback. All other things being equal, “Would you be able to pick up the kids an hour early,” is more likely to lead to a mutually agreeable outcome than “You need to pick up the kids an hour early.”
3. Be Respectful. Listen to the concerns of the other parent and, to the extent possible, express your own concerns in a non-judgmental manner. When you jump to conclusions or belittle the other person, it puts up significant roadblocks, inflames emotions, and makes reaching resolution more difficult.
4. Be Proactive. Give the other parent advance warning. If you know that you are going to need a change in the parenting-time schedule, or you want to block out a week for a vacation, let the other parent know as far in advance as possible. This allows him or her to have greater opportunity to alter plans or make arrangements, and increases the likelihood that the other parent will be able to accommodate your wishes.
5. Know When Seek Help. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself unable to communicate productively with the other parent. In such cases, it may be beneficial to utilize technology such as Our Family Wizard, which preserves messages, tracks responses, analyzes tone to help make communication more productive, and allows attorneys to access the information, if needed.
To discuss co-parenting, or for any family law concerns, contact Kruse Family Law at 612.231.9865, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.