How to Effectively Communicate with A Co-parent
Sometimes it’s not easy to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship. Regular communication with your child’s mother or father can be overshadowed by your reasons for divorce, disagreements, and negativity. The truth is, it’s worth working on!
Taking the time and making the effort to move past what you struggled with in your own relationship to
better care for your child or children takes priority. Together, you will be able to provide the environment your children need to thrive. Ensuring they feel safe, stable, and understood are jobs for both parents. By keeping the line of communication open and consistent, you will be able to tackle any issues as a team, navigate new things together, and be updated on any major decisions.
Here are a few ways to effectively communicate with a co-parent.
- Put Your Child First: Some divorces are simpler than others. More often than not, there is something messy about it. Your child is also processing the divorce in their own way. Making sure that your child feels loved, understood, and cared for needs to come first.
- Vow to Make the Effort: From the get-go, have a conversation with your former spouse about how much it means to you that the two of you have consistent communication in relation to your child. You can mention how being closed off to each other could negatively impact your child’s quality of life, and how sharing information benefits your child immensely.
- Be Open and Honest: Find a communication strategy that works for your lifestyle. Do you have phone calls intermittently? Or would you rather have something schedule regularly? Would you prefer to discuss things via text in real time? Maybe you meet up once a month to go over things. Figure out something that works with your lifestyle and family dynamic.
- Don’t Sabotage Your Co-parent in Front of Child: Regardless of the conflict that hopefully has been diffused, refrain from trash talking your co-parent or showing negative body language. Everyone makes mistakes and life can be hard, but it is unfair to make your child pick sides in a disagreement between parents. Instead, be neutral, keep adult conversations away from them, and shift your focus to being supportive.
- Be a Good Listener: It’s easy for some parents to be involved while their children are with them, but be unassociated when they are with their co-parent. When you are chatting with your co-parent, be attentive. Listen to what they have to say and give a response when needed. It’s important to notice any differences in behavior when your child is with their other parent.
- Be Clear and Upfront: How do you feel about the following: time outs, curfews, rules, punishment, rewards, after school activities, medical care, eating habits, screen time, etc.? Being clear with your co-parent about how you feel about these things, listening to their opinion, and ultimately deciding on something together helps your child to have structure regardless of moving between places. Of course, there may be some areas you disagree, but try to find middle ground or establish your reasoning when your child is at your home.
- Use Co-Parenting Apps or Calendars: An easier way to stay on top of your child’s calendar is to use an app that you and your co-parent share. This is also a great line of communication with a toxic ex that may abuse access to your phone number. There are multiple apps for this, so do your research and find the best fit.
- Never Make Your Child the Messenger: Communication with your co-parent should take place in a safe place with a calm emotional state. If you can’t say it with a businesslike, straightforward and polite attitude, it should wait for another time. Do not use your children as your messengers. Speak to your co-parent on your own. They want to be present with you.
All in all, the key to a successful co-parenting relationship starts with three big bullet points. First and by far most important, putting your child first. Second, by finding an effective way to communicate. Third, by communicating in a professional way. Put those three together and your co-parent relationship is off to a great start!