Tips for communicating with your co-parent

Divorced or separated Indiana parents know that co-parenting can be complex and challenging, no matter how well you get along with your co-parent.

Although there may be negative feelings lingering between you and your co-parent, maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship is extremely important. Children need stability, routine and to feel safe after their parents’ divorce or separate.

Communication is necessary for a good co-parenting relationship

One of the best ways to do this is to communicate well. Your children perceive more than you realize, and lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and conflict, which can affect your children.

You may not want to communicate at all with your co-parent, but the reality is that since you share children together, this is not an option. Communication is necessary.

Ignoring or not communicating with your co-parent could even hurt you if you end up in court over custody. Custody judges do not look favorably on parents who do not communicate or withhold information from the other parent.

Keep the focus on your children

However, you do not have to communicate with your co-parent about anything and everything, especially if they are asking you about things that have nothing to do with the children or your custody and parenting time situation.

Keep conversations about the children and their needs only. Pick a communication method that you both feel comfortable with.

Some parents choose to talk through text message only, while some prefer communication by sending messages through co-parenting software. Having all conversations be in writing can reduce the chance for misunderstandings or “he said/she said” situations.

Do not include your children in conversations

While your conversations should be about your children, they should not include your children. Your children should never be used to send messages to and from your co-parent.

This not only puts them in the middle of a situation meant for adults, but it could also make them feel like the situation or conflict is their fault. Many children already struggle with feelings of guilt or shame if their parents separate.

Keep communication civil

Always be polite and respectful, no matter how hard it is. You are allowed to have feelings of anger, sadness or resentment, but those emotions should be dealt with in an appropriate place. Consider counseling or therapy to help you work through these types of feelings.

If you do have verbal or in-person conversations, try to not have them in front of your children. Even if it is a polite conversation, children should be kept out of conversations involving them.

Focus on your children when you are with them, not your co-parent. Remember to put your children’s needs first and think about what is in their best interest.

You can agree to disagree

You and your co-parent are probably going to disagree on things at times. When it becomes clear neither of you are going to change each other’s minds, accept it and let it go.

Your co-parenting relationship will change and evolve over time, as your children grow. If the relationship deteriorates to the point that you worry your children will be permanently damaged, it might be time to speak with a custody attorney.