Working towards peaceful, consistent, and purposeful communication with your ex is absolutely essential to the success of co-parenting—even when it seems impossible. It begins with your mindset. Think about communication with your ex as having the highest purpose: your child’s well-being. Before contact with your ex, ask yourself how your talk will affect your child. Make your child the focal point of every discussion you and your ex have together.
The goal is to establish conflict-free communication, so see which type of contact works best for you. Whether talking via email, phone, or in person, the following methods can help you initiate and maintain effective communication:
● Set a business-like tone: Approach the relationship with your ex as a business partnership, where your “business” is your children’s well-being. Speak or write to your ex as you would a colleague—with cordiality, respect, and neutrality.
● Make requests: Instead of making statements, which can often be misinterpreted as demands, try framing as much as you can as requests; "Would you be willing to…?" or “Can we try…?”
● Listen: Communicating with maturity starts with listening. Even if you end up disagreeing, you should at least be able to express to your ex that you have understood his/her point of view. Listening does not signify approval, so you will not lose anything by allowing your ex to voice his/her opinions.
● Show restraint: Keep in mind that communicating with one another is going to be necessary for your child's entire childhood—if not longer.
● Commit to meeting/talking consistently: Frequent communication with your ex will convey the message to your children that you and their other parent are a united front.
● Keep conversations child-focused: You can control the content of your communication. Never let a discussion with your ex go off the point; it should always be about your child's needs only.
Posted by Isa Salvador, LCSW, IMH-E(III)