Would you consider yourself and your ex-partner (co-parent) to be high conflict? There are many ways that you can make your co-parenting experience more tolerable, for the sake of your kids:
- Use a Communication App – there are many apps (free and paid) by which you and your ex can communicate. The most robust one I have found is www.OurFamilyWizard.com which has such functions as: messaging, journaling, tracking of cost-sharing and reimbursement requests, shared calendaring with change request tracking, and input area for children’s particulars (clothing sizes, doctor/dentist/therapist/etc contact details, vaccination info, teacher contact info, etc), and ability to give access to your lawyer / mediator so they can keep apprised of your communication. Keeping all your communication in one spot can be beneficial for tracking and for setting boundaries. It also makes it easy to attach any communication to an affidavit if ever required.
- Use a shared calendar – If you choose not to go with a communication app for all communication, I recommend at least using a shared calendar so that it can remain updated with all kid events. Gone will be the days of “you didn’t tell me about this…”.
- Exchange Children at a Public and/or Neutral Location – if you are able to do exchanges so that you don’t have to interact with your ex, it tends to be a less stressful experience for both parents and children. Consider drop-offs and pickups at school or daycare. If you have to exchange directly with your ex, consider doing so at a public place, which tends inherently to cause less altercations.
- Commit to Conflict Resolution by Mediation – Mediation can be used as an on-going tool for conflict resolution. Once you have retained a Mediator, you can engage that Mediator anytime you need – whether it’s for one quick ½ hour session or a longer series of sessions. If you and your ex reach an impasse on a particular issue or feel it would be more effective to have a neutral professional help to de-escalate and resolve your issue, contact your Mediator early on.
Studies show that toxic stress such as high conflict co-parents (separated or not) can have a negative impact on children’s brain development (Alberta Family Wellness – Brain Study). The tips above may help you to reduce your stress around your co-parent, as well as help your children to thrive post-separation.