Communication generally is important, but in the context of separating & divorcing families it’s even more important. It serves as the foundation of a good co-parenting relationship. It also shows the children that you and your co-parent are working together, as a united front. This is so critical to show your children, otherwise the children can and will start using the non-communication of their parents to their advantage. Think of your co-parenting relationship as a business relationship between business partners – cordial and respectful. You don’t have to agree with their perspective, but you may have to compromise to achieve resolution on any particular topic.
In order to communicate effectively, I encourage you to set mutually-agreed expectations with your co-parent – the who, the what, and the when:
- Who – who’s to be part of the communication thread? Parents only? Step-parents? Extended family? Children in some cases?
- What – what type of information do you agree to exchange regularly, and to what level of detail? You and your co-parent may have different ideas of what each of you want to know about the kids when they’re in the other parent’s home.
- When – what frequency of updates do you expect of each other – daily, at exchanges, other? How soon after an incident do you expect to know about it – does it matter what occurred as to the promptness of the communication? When one parent reaches out to the other, how quickly do you expect a response?
There are so many ways to communicate these days – text, phone, in-person, email, apps, etc. – I would say that there’s no one right way to communicate. You may wish to consider the topic and the time sensitivity when you determine the method of communication. Some things may be more appropriate for one way or another. For instance, lots of parents say that if they need to communicate something immediately they will either call or text, whereas things that require more time to consider would be sent by email.
I highly recommend that parents use a co-parenting app to communicate and to keep information organized. Check out my blog on technology for separated parents for more details about apps. Technology blog: Using Technology to Improve your Co-Parenting Relationship