At a training that I attended several years ago, cartoons were disseminated with the materials. One cartoon depicted two parents sitting on a couch with their child facing them. The child announced, “look, this has been fun, but it’s not working out for me. I’d really like to start seeing other parents.” Children, of course, don’t have the option to “see” other parents but parents have an obligation to become the best co-parents that they can be, despite the demise of the adult relationship. Some adults accept this role and do a great job. Others struggle for a variety of reasons. The reality is that children whose parents make joint decisions and present a unified parental front fare much better in life. These children can’t get away with too much negative behavior compared with children whose parents don’t communicate. Effective co-parents serve as good role models for their children. These children learn that good communication skills, empathy and listening prepare them for the world outside their family.
The foundation of good co-parenting starts with effective and productive communication. It’s ok to disagree. Parents do that all the time, even within intact families. It is natural to want our opinions heard, considered and respected. It is not acceptable to use threats or to call the other parent nasty names. You wouldn’t do that to your boss or co-worker, so don’t do it to your co-parent. Your co-parenting tone should be business like and brief. Don’t let your important message get lost in the emotions of the old relationship. Embrace a new way of communicating and break old habits. Those old habits didn’t serve well before and they won’t in this new stage of life. Written communication is not the perfect way to share information, but it is a place to start. Better communication between parents allows more information to be exchanged and by extension, better decisions made for the the people that parents care most about.
My intent is not to dispense legal advice through this service. The purpose is to help you reframe your communication so that you and your co-parent can share information about your child or children and make good, effective decisions. Please consult an attorney if you need legal advice. Also, this service is not expected to be used long term, unless you need it to be. The goal is for me to assist you with improving your joint communication with each other so that you can launch it on your own. You can always contact me for a “tune up” if you run into a stumbling block or are experiencing difficulty in crafting the right words to send to your co-parent.