As a child of divorce, I know there is nothing more heartwarming than when your parents can get along and coparent well. No, you do not need to be besties with your ex. However, you owe to your children to strive toward more cordial and respectful communications.
Here are some tips:
Use “please” and “thank you”
It may sound silly, but using these simple words is a great start toward more respectful communication. Once I have client start using these words in all of their communications, they often improve their overall communication style. Clients often tell me that their ex writes terrible emails or texts. That is not an excuse to write terrible messages back. Rather, it is and opportunity to lead by example.
Do not lecture or brow beat
You should communicate with your ex to gather and convey information, not to teach lessons. Be real, when was the last time your ex took one of your lectures to heart? Instead of “How many times to I need to remind you not to pack junk food in Billy’s lunch,” try “At the store, Billy picked out some low fat yogurt cups and trail mix to bring with his lunch. It is such a relief that he found a healthy snack he likes. Let me know if you have any other ideas.”
Read your old messages
When you want to improve communication, a good place to start is to review your old messages. Ask yourself, are you proud of what you wrote? Was the tone, appropriate? would you be proud if your children found a copy of them when they get older? If your answer was not “yes” to these three questions, think about how you can improve your communication.
Take your emotion out of it
Treat communication with your ex like a business transaction. Do not let your emotions get the best of you. When you are mad at work, you cannot just tear into your boss or coworkers. You are required to maintain a certain level of decorum to keep your job. Why should parenting be any different?
Do not respond immediately
Unless it is urgent, resist the urge to write back immediately. Writing back and forth quickly can cause you to forget the aforementioned tips and go back to your old habits. You and your ex may let your emotions get the best of you and next thing you know the communication has taken a nose dive into the gutter.
Hopefully, these tips can start you on the path to better communication with your ex. Your kids and your lawyer will thank you!
To make an appointment to discuss your coparenting situation, here is how to get started.