3 important communication rules for co-parents

Parents who share time with their children and decision-making authority have to communicate with each other regardless of the state of their relationship. It can be very difficult for co-parents to adjust to their new dynamic, especially early in the divorce process or right after a separation occurs.

No matter what emotions the adults in the family feel, they still have substantial obligations to each other and to the children that they share. Parents who have appropriate standards when communicating with each other can minimize the stress they experience as co-parents and can also reduce the challenges their children face in this new family arrangement.

Keep things in writing initially

Although co-parents may eventually develop a healthy and positive relationship, they may struggle to communicate calmly and respectfully in the early co-parenting stage. Committing to written communication about all relevant parenting matters initially can be a smart move. Some families use a parenting app, which ensures that all communications are in one location. Others may use email, online shareable document programs or text messages to communicate. Knowing that there is a permanent record of what parents discuss could deter people from becoming overly aggressive or threatening.

Be prompt about sharing information

Withholding crucial information about the children is a manipulative tactic used by some people who want to interfere in the relationship that their co-parent has with their shared children. Parents generally do have an obligation to share information about a child’s health, education and development with each other. Remembering to send a text or email when a child comes home from school sick, faces disciplinary action or receives a poor grade on a major test can help ensure that both parents have the necessary information about their children and can weigh in on how to handle family challenges.

Have rules for communicating with the children

Just as parents need to have standards for how they communicate with each other, they also need rules for communicating with their children. Having a specific window of time when it is appropriate to call or text with the children given their bedtime is a good communication rule. Many parents also have specific communication methods that they allow while disallowing others, like social media messages. Rules that ensure that both parents have an opportunity to communicate with the children during the other’s parenting time can help preserve the parent-child bond and reduce conflicts in the family.

Those who create more extensive parenting plans can avoid many of the pitfalls of shared parental responsibility. Thinking about issues that are likely to cause conflict can be beneficial for those in changing family circumstances.

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