In this section, we will talk about how you can communicate with your former spouse. Communication is the most important characteristic of a co-parenting relationship. Communication will take lots of patience.
Many times the parents will not get along when this is the case.
Keep in mind the well-being of your child. Always give the other parent the information that you would like to know.
Communicate with the other parent. If you fail to communicate, you might harm your child. Such as failing to inform the other parent about a new medicine, medical issues, academic problems, etc.
Always act in your child’s best interest.
Treat the relationship as a relationship between business partners. Your relationship should focus on the child and be cordial. Make sure that everything is taken care of and that your child is safe.
Tips to help with communication
Be brief, pleasant, business-like
Keep the focus on your child
Do not use rude language (sarcasm, demands, accusations.)
Use courteous language (please and thank you)
(Cooperating with your co-parent shows that you care for your child).
Tools to communicate
Text Message- Good for quick communication, like time for drop off/pick up. Do not text about detailed topics or topics that need to convey emotion.
Telephone call- This can be useful if you can do so without having conflict. Dedicate a time to call the other parent.
Email- Can be used for quick and effective messages that keep a thread of your conversation. Agree with the other parent on how often you plan to check/respond to email messages. Make sure to keep your message short and use a specific subject line. Stepparents should not be included in email correspondence unless given permission. It might be helpful to create an email address solely to communicate with the other parent.
Child News Report- Your child’s news report could be a notebook that includes information to transfer between parents. Some information to include in this report: feeding, sleep schedule, moods, medical information, school events, disciplinary issues, developmental milestones, schedules, etc. Keep the other parent in the loop. This method works very well for infants.
Communication About Medical Care- Try to keep your child’s medical routine the same. Both parents might want to be involved in the child’s medical visits however, both parents attending office visits might not be in the best interest of your child. Lack of communication could lead to conflict at the medical office. If a medical emergency occurs, you must let the other parent know immediately.
Communication About Education- You need to communicate specifics of your children’s schooling. For example, progress reports, school schedules, school contact information, online login information, and the child’s school planner. Parents need to provide both of their information listed in school records. Both parents should have equal opportunity. In case of an emergency, both parents should be on their child’s emergency contact list.
Negative Impact on child’s Mental Health
Research shows that children are highly adaptive and can adapt to difficult situations. Bitter and long-lasting conflict is what negatively impacts children most.
If the conflict becomes long-lasting, you can expect to see these adverse effects:
Emotional and behavioral problems
Your children will start to feel unsafe.
Children worry that they might have to take sides.
You might make children feel guilty
Poor role-modeling for children.
Quality of parenting decreases.
The parent-child relationship might suffer.
What Can You Do About Chronic Parental Conflict?
Shield your child from destructive parental conflict: No name-calling, blaming, or harsh criticism.
Learn and practice healthy communication skills.
Give your child a little bit of information about what is going on. You can be honest, but be brief. Do not give them a long explanation about why you and the other parent are not getting along.
Do not criticize the other parent in front of your child.
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