Communication. It has become such a strange thing that we often don’t even think about. Our world is all about communicating, yet it seems like many people are communicating less. I found that before I separated from my partner—we’d stopped communicating, even though we were sharing a lot of information on a daily basis. When we stepped into the role of co-parenting, we realized that it is vital that we begin communicating properly…and in completely new ways than we had before.
In fact, to properly separate and create two houses that function as a continuation of the other, communication was key, but it definitely wasn’t easy. In this tip, I will explain why communication is so important for Canadian co-parents as well as some things that really worked for us.
Why is Communicating so Important?
Obviously, everyone has dozens of reasons why communicating is so important, but when it comes down to co-parenting, it is because it is imperative. If co-parents aren’t communicating, they can’t co-parent and if they are not co-parenting to the best interests of their children, the courts can step in as their main concern in Canadian law is the best interest of the children but that can mean that those decisions are not best for parents.
Even without the courts stepping in, there is a lot to cover when Canadian parents are first separating from custody agreements, visitation schedules, financial agreements, and the not-so-simple task for telling the kids about the separation. All of this takes communication and how you communicate can determine how quickly you can move on to the next stage of parenting—co-parenting.
But you may be wondering, how can I make communication one of the most important parts of co-parenting when we are still going through the separation? The easy answer is that it’s not going to be easy. When it comes to the kids, and co-parenting, you have to put a lot of the other things to the side. And there are ways that you can do this.
Separate the Communication
For communicating when it comes to co-parenting, separate the communication. What this means is that you should only be talking about matters that affect the kids. Anything that has to do with your relationship or the separation as it affects the adults should be set to specific types of communication or set times. When it is time to discuss things for the kids, make sure you don’t go into things about the relationship or how you are dealing with splitting the households.
The main reason for this is that it keeps the communication centered and you are less likely to argue over things if you are communicating about the kids.
Leave it in the Past
Along the same lines, leave it in the past. When my partner and I first separated, it was difficult to really leave the past where it should be. Unfortunately, every time we brought up behaviours in the past…such as I always took the kids to the doctors…we would get caught up in arguing and not communicating. The fact was, in our new arrangement, sometimes my kids had doctors’ appointments when they were with my ex and sometimes with me, which meant that I had to rely on my ex to handle things that I used to handle.
Instead of focusing on the past, I was able to see the importance of communicating about all the things the kids needed and not just the things my ex handled when we were together. That was where a co-parenting app really came in handy. We could schedule things, but we could also journal important information and communicate needs much better without having to worry about how things were done in the past. New family dynamic, new tools, such as 2houses, to make that dynamic run smoothly.
Focus on the Three Ws
Finally, this was advice that we received a few times from various lawyers and friends who had been through divorce and separation—focus on the three Ws to really make sure that communication is thriving.
So what are the three Ws? These are:
- Who: The people who need to be part of the communication. For many families, there are a lot of extra people who need to be part of the communication involved with co-parenting. Schools, teachers, extended family, stepparents and even the kids themselves. By expanding on the who, you can really determine how to create strong communication between everyone for the best interests of the kids.
- What: This really looks at the communication component. What type of information will you be sharing. Co-parents need to set up parameters on what needs to be shared — such as emergencies or test results from the doctors— to what doesn’t need to be shared—such as what the kids ate for dinner. Some of the what will seem insignificant but they are important for nurturing relationships between parents and kids and are an important part of communication.
- When: Finally, figure out when you need to speak with your co-parent. Does it need to be daily? Just at exchanges or do you need to touch base once or twice a week? By deciding a schedule for when to communicate, you can ensure that all communication is to the point and not meandering into other topics.
While it is not part of the three Ws, how you communicate will help you communicate with your co-parent. If you are finding that face to face conversations are resulting in fights, move to online or communicate through the 2houses app. If you need faster responses, try texting. Trust me, when you find the way to communicate that works best for you and your ex-partner, you will be able to communicate effectively, which will add important benefits to your co-parenting relationship.
In the end, communication is what is going to make you both successful as co-parents so it can be the most important step to supporting your kids.