5 Tips and Strategies to Navigating Co-Parenting Communication

Communication is one of the most important tools that you can have as a co-parent, but it can also be one of the hardest things to navigate for many reasons. First, you may be coming from a separation that occurred because of a breakdown of communication. Second, some topics, such as finances, can be a conflict topic, that can quickly breakdown communication. Third, communication isn’t easy to navigate even in the best co-parenting relationships—after all, your relationship, how much you’ve healed around the separation or divorce, and your comfort levels are all going to determine how you will communicate as co-parenting.

Tip Number One: Understand what Communication is

To begin, communication is how we give and receive information and when you are a co-parent, there is a lot of information that you will be exchanging from scheduling to expenses and more. With communication, we are looking at five key skills you will need to master, these are:

  1. Verbal Communication: This is exactly as it sounds, speaking with your co-partner. It can occur face-to-face, on any type of video conference/facetime app, or over the phone. 
  2. Non-Verbal Communication: This comes in with verbal communication but it is the facial expressions, eye contact, posture and body movement that conveys non-verbal messages. For instance, rolling your eyes when your co-parent is talking will say a lot about how you are feeling in that moment. It is always important to be aware of your non-verbal cues to avoid conflict.
  3. Written Communication: As it sounds, it’s any type of correspondence you have with your co-parent in writing. The 2houses app is perfect for this as there are several options to send written communication to your co-parent.
  4. Active Listening: Not always thought of as a part of communication but being an active listener is very important as you won’t find yourself in as many conflicts if you are listening. 
  5. Visual Communication: Finally, we get a lot of communication with videos, images, ads, etc. As co-parents, sending videos and images through the 2houses app is a great way for you to communicate how the kids are doing when they aren’t with the other parent.

Now that we’ve looked at the different types of communication, let’s jump into tips to help you navigate co-parenting communication. 

Tip Number Two: Keep it Connected to the Kids

Keeping it centered on the kids is an important step, especially when you first enter into a co-parent relationship. Remember, you were in a partnership before your separation where you checked in with your ex-partner about what was going on in their life. When you are co-parenting, it can be easy to fall back into that role where you are caregiving for an ex-partner and this can cause a lot of tensions, especially if it becomes confusing.

When you first separate or divorce, keep the communication very business like, but still be okay. It is fine to ask how things are, but avoid becoming the confidant for their problems. Keep the majority of conversations on your kids and the subject around your kids’ needs. Later on, your co-parenting arrangement may move into a friendship but it’s okay if it doesn’t or if you keep it strictly on a professional, business-like manner. 

Tip Number Three: Find the Communication that Works

This will be a constantly evolving process while you are navigating your co-parenting communication. Sometimes, co-parenting can only be done through the use of a mediator or mediation app. Communication can be difficult and it may be strictly written with no verbal interactions. That is okay, especially when there are increased tensions and conflict. 

Taking a step back in communication can help prevent it from becoming completely shut down. Most parents find that one or a mixture of two or three methods work best for them so it is important to find the one that works for you. For some, regular verbal communication is key to properly sharing information, for others, calendars as the main communication format makes it go smoother for their two houses.

Tip Number Four: Be Aware of Your Language

Language is often one thing that can lead to more conflict in co-parenting communication. Let’s face it, most of us have never really had to be aware of language too much so it can be a bit jarring when it becomes very apparent that you need to be. 

With language, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. These are:

  • “I” Statements: Remember to always approach things with “I” statements, especially when you are dealing with a conflict. 
  • Avoid Blaming Language: This ties into “I” statements but try to avoid “you” statements or things like, “you never” and so on. 
  • Use Solution Focused Languages: Shift away from blame and focus on solutions instead. So, if an appointment is missed by your co-parent, suggest setting up reminders for future appointments. 
  • Avoid Past Dialogues: It is easy to slip into conversations about the past and this can quickly lead to conflict if there are unresolved issues. Instead, keep dialogue to the here and now. 

Tip Number Five: Keep Communication Direct

When you are communicating, make sure that you are being direct in what you are saying and the method that you are delivering it in. Don’t use your children to send messages to your co-parent. Instead, give them directly to the co-parent or send via the 2houses app. 

In addition, any communication you have, keep it focused on only what you are trying to communicate. Try to avoid going off topic, which can be very easy to do.

By navigating communication with your co-parent, you can create a positive relationship that will help your children succeed in adjusting to living in two houses. It won’t always be easy, but when you successfully communicate with your co-parent, you will find it rewarding across the board.