Divorcing couples can feel a wide range of emotions from rejection to anger, sadness to relief and more. After a divorce, you probably wish you could have a break from dealing with your spouse. However, if you have children, you need to help your kids deal with divorce while also presenting a united front as parents.
Children are forever; all sales final. It’s true. Conscientious parents are concerned about the effects of divorce and its impact on their family. Within the process of Arizona collaborative divorce, “family is forever” is the foundation for your new lives apart. You may need to learn new communication skills to navigate your new co-parenting world.
Ways to Improve Divorced Parent Communication
Navigating legal decision making and parenting time options can be difficult. You may choose to divide your children’s time with each parent evenly. Or, you may decide one parent will have the primary responsibility for caring for the children. The decision is for the adults, but how you share the information with your kids is critical.
Parent communication between a divorced couple should be non-combative and non-competitive. If you and your ex-spouse engage in win-lose conversations, your children lose the most.
There can be long-lasting consequences on kids depending on the quality and tone of parenting communication during and after a divorce. Children often become anxious when divorced or separated parents argue because they feel a sense of responsibility. They are aware that most of your conversations are about them. They may deny their own needs or align with one parent and reject the other, believing they are reducing the conflict and keeping the peace. Even the youngest children can interpret the tone of a conversation from a few rooms away. These habits can result in overly aggressive or avoidant conflict styles as children become adults.
Consider what you can do to make your divorce easier on the kids before your next big talk.
1. Communicating with Each Other
Here are a few tips to help you communicate with your co-parent:
- Be willing to compromise. When facing what feels like a win-lose decision, try to find the middle ground.
- Develop a business-like tone of voice. Speak to each other with respect and neutrality, even when you’re upset.
- Instead of demanding, make requests. “Can we try…?”
- Keep talking.No matter how you feel about each other, parenting communication can’t shut down. The “don’t-argue-in-front-of-the-kids” rule still applies.
- Make a commitment to regularly communicate. Face-to-face or cellphone meetings with your co-parent will present a united front to the kids. This will benefit both of you when they try to get away with something.
- Work together to establish ground rules. You don’t need the rules at both houses to be identical. However, basic rules for both homes can include topics such as bed time, chores, curfews, screen time and homework.
2. Kids and Parent Communication
This should be no revelation to you: Kids often lie (or exaggerate) to get what they want. The question, “Did your mom say it was okay?” is often answered with “Yes.” Trust your instincts and double-check suspicious activity rather than letting them take an opportunity to play you against each other. United co-parents give kids a feeling of safety and security, no matter what they say.
Here are a few tips to help you communicate with your kids:
- Reassure kids that the two of you are working together. This reduces their anxiety. Your answers should be age-appropriate, of course. Before answering, think about how your response will affect your child’s relationship with your co-parent. Remember, kids don’t need to know everything.
- It’s okay to show emotion. Even though their feelings are foremost, your kids will see your sadness or disappointment. It’s OK to admit this is a hard time for everyone. However, there is a fine line between acceptable and unacceptable displays of emotion. Be cautious. Kids should never believe they need to take care of the parent.
- Never give them false hope. It is tempting to smile and say, “Maybe someday…” to a tearful child. However, that little sentence can build mountains of hope in a child’s mind. Make sure you are communicating with your co-parent before sharing information with your kids to ensure you are on the same page regarding decisions
R-E-S-P-E-C-T in Parent Communication
Tone and your spoken words can convey respect for your ex-partner, yourself and your children. The professionals at Best Legal Choices encourage respectful parent communication, during and after your divorce.
If you participate in a collaborative divorce, you can also receive the assistance of communication coaches who can teach new verbal interaction skills. To learn more about respectful parent communication during a divorce, contact Best Legal Choices today.