After a divorce or separation - everything shifts. You suddenly have new schedules to manage, a different financial situation, and changing responsibilities that require major adjustments.
Your parenting situation also undergoes a major change. There are suddenly overwhelming parenting possibilities; from custody options to schedule concerns.
Throughout the process of choosing the right situation for your family’s needs - you’ve probably heard the word “co-parenting”.
But, just what does that word mean?
In this three-part series, we’re taking a closer look at what “co-parenting” means, and the many different ways moms and dads choose to co-parent. In this second installment, we’ll take a look at one of the core features of co-parenting: “communication”.
The Art of Communication
“Keep in mind that when you co-parent, communicating with your former spouse is going to be necessary for the length of your children’s childhood into young adulthood,” points out an article in Divorce Mag.
Communication is at the heart of co-parenting. Co-parents communicate about everything from scheduling to finances, school work, extracurricular commitments, discipline, healthcare, and all the unexpected details that arise when raising a child.
If you’re thinking, “the last thing I want to do right now is talk to my ex,” you’re not alone. Most people after a divorce or separation need and want time apart.
However, communicating doesn’t mean having each other over to dinner, talking on the phone each night, or even seeing or hearing your ex’s voice.
Successful co-parents actually choose their own method of communication - choosing a style that works for both parties.
Here are some different ways co-parents choose to communicate:
Text messages are an easy, convenient, and straightforward method; perfect for sharing information in a clean, direct way. Successful co-parents keep these texts positive, brief, and to-the-point.
Email is great for sharing more detailed information, or for co-parents in higher-conflict relationships who are struggling to keep communication business-like, positive, and free from negative emotions.
Old-school and straightforward, phone calls are a tried and true way of keeping communication open between co-parents. High-conflict co-parents may find phone calls to difficult at first, while low-conflict co-parents may enjoy this more direct communication style.
Many services, like Bonfami, offer a third-party chat service. Bonfami’s in-development tool will even provide convenient prompts and suggestions for keeping conversations positive and upbeat.
Many co-parents set up once-a-month in-person meetings in a coffee shop, park, restaurant, or other neutral meeting place. Avoid meeting at each other’s houses or workplaces whenever possible.
Via a Mediator
Co-parents in high-conflict situations shouldn’t despair. Emotions that are raw after divorce or separation are natural, and take time to heal. Using a counsellor or mediator for communication is a smart way to stay in conversation, without dissolving in anger or sadness.
Creating a Process that Works for You
As a co-parent, you get to choose how your communication takes place.
Co-parents with little conflict may want to meet face-to-face in a coffee shop once each month, while communicating via text or phone each week. Co-parents with high-conflict relationships may choose to communicate solely via email or text messaging at first - or even throughout the duration of their co-parenting.
Remember that you can choose the frequency, location, and method of your communication - and you can also choose to combine several methods. For example; weekly texts, monthly phone calls, and in-person meetings twice a year.
Whatever you decide, trust that things do get easier as time goes on, and for parents committed to communicating for the benefit of their children, there is a bright future ahead.