A divorce or separation can be an emotionally trying time for all involved, but it is important to keep communication between separated parents positive. Even though talking with your ex may feel like the last thing you want to do, an open dialogue can keep everyone informed about what is going on, and keep the children from getting stuck in the middle.
Keeping the lines of communication open when it comes to raising children creates a way for both parents to be present for extracurricular activities and maintain active roles in the children’s lives. It also allows both parents to identify any issues that need to be dealt with and anticipate changes to the children’s schedules or the co-parenting plan.
When talking with your ex, two basic strategies can help you keep your personal issues out of the dialogue.
1. Focus strictly on the kids.
It can be difficult at first to figure out what is a real issue that needs to be discussed and what’s not, and it can be tempting to bring up the issues that contributed to your separation or divorce every time you have to communicate with your ex — but don’t.
When it comes to the kids, it’s important to start viewing the other parent as a co-owner of a business (the business that is raising your children). Yes, it seems cold and impersonal, but that’s the point. Keeping communication short, matter of fact, and straightforward will go a long way toward a positive experience for all of those involved. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable having that conversation during your lunch hour if your boss could overhear. If the answer is no, it’s time to reevaluate. Table the conversation for a few days if possible, or write an email and let it sit overnight before sending so that you can look at it once you’ve calmed down.
2. Communicate in writing.
The organization of divorced parents can be tough, and if at all possible, both sides should put everything in writing to avoid miscommunication. Having the kids’ schedules somewhere easily accessible makes it possible for either parent to check for conflicts or receive reminders about your child’s upcoming game without having to deal directly with the other parent. Online tools that let you keep track of shared expenses, maintain a list of important contacts like the pediatrician or cheerleading coach, and create a joint online photo album keep the focus squarely on family and the best interests of the children.
Keeping these two guidelines in mind can help separated parents’ conflicts from interfering with the children’s happiness and well-being and make the situation as positive as possible.