Effective communication after separation or divorce that is child centred and child focused can be very difficult for many couples after their relationship breaks down. Couples who are separation or divorce in Ottawa may find it difficult to put their personal and emotional differences on the side when they have to speak to their ex partners regarding childcare or child rearing issues. Cindy Harari, Esq. offers valuable information about communicating with your ex partner that is effective and promotes a healthy parenting relationships. She is an attorney, trained parenting coordinator, mediator, and arbitrator. Her article talks in simple language how to avoid common pitfalls of parenting communication after separation or divorce.
10 Simple Communication Strategies for Divorced Parents
by Cindy Harari, Esq.
One of many challenges faced by divorced parents is the dilemma of communicating with their child’s other parent. Although the parents have decided to divorce and end their “personal” relationship, when children are involved, the dissolution of a marriage mirrors the end of a business relationship where the business partners (the parents) have produced a product or asset (the children) that remains after the termination of the business.
Even though the parents no longer wish to continue to “work together,” they share the desire for their children (the priceless marital asset) to grow and thrive. Among other things, the success of the children requires divorced parents to communicate with each other about child-focused issues. So how do divorced parents communicate effectively about their children when they are angry or upset or would simply rather not speak with their child’s other parent ever again? Read on…
10 Communication tips for Divorced Parents
1. Whenever possible, communicate in writing. Writing gives you the opportunity to clarify your thoughts and express yourself clearly. Also, in the event of a misunderstanding, everyone can go back and look at what is written. Emails and faxes have the advantage of having a date and time embedded as well.
2. Stick to child-focused issues and keep your communication informative, not emotional.
3. Keep your communication clear. Use bullet points or numbers rather than paragraphs.
4. If an item requires a response, indicate when the response is necessary. Also state what action will be taken in the event the other parent does not respond. For example: Our son’s class trip is on (date) and the cost is ($X). The permission slip is due on (date). Please let me know by (date) if this is OK with you. If I don’t hear from you, I will sign the permission slip and you and I will split the cost.
5. Do not use your communication as an opportunity to re-hash your feelings about the subjects you are writing about. Remember – this is business communication about your children.
6. Divide your writing into sections such as “old business,” “new business” and “FYI.”
7. Respond to communication from your child’s other parent as you would like to have them respond to you. Be prompt and businesslike.
8. Use e-mail (and all communication) courteously. Do not write entirely in capital letters. Do not use boldface type. Do not use extremely large type. Do not use exclamation points. Stay away from sarcasm. No name-calling or bad language at any time.
9. Take the initiative so neither parent becomes the “communication liaison.” Children’s schools, day care providers, extracurricular activity providers, etc. should have contact information for both parents. Each parent should receive notices from these sources. If that is not happening, the parent who is not receiving the information can provide their contact information and get on the distribution list.
10. Look into online programs such as OurFamilyWizard and ShareKids for calendaring and communication. These programs are designed especially for divorced parents.
There is a time and a place for your emotional release regarding your divorce, but, at the same time, there is a need to conduct the business of raising your children with someone you would probably rather not talk to. So how do you find the strength to “take the high road” time after time and communicate calmly and effectively with your child’s other parent?
Always remember that your child’s wellbeing depends on what you do and how you do it. It takes work to compartmentalize your emotions and put the needs of your children first, but you can do it. You are not alone – there are many resources available for to help you grow through the divorce. Successful communication strategies are a great addition to your post-divorce parenting toolkit.
Cindy Harari, Esq. is an attorney, trained parenting coordinator, mediator, and arbitrator.