The co-parenting transitional phase can take some time to adjust to, especially if you have been in an unhealthy marriage. Trying to co-parent from unresolved emotional wounds never makes it peaceful to co-parent.
It’s time to go from emotional to a business-like mindset in your communication style with your co-parent to be effective and efficient.
Perhaps you are so angry or hurt that this seems like an impossible task right now. It’s okay. It’s very natural to feel that way.
While there will be moments where you will need to focus on your healing, there will also be times when you’ll need to put those emotions aside to do what is in the best interest of the children - communicating with your co-parent to meet their needs.
Here Are Five Healthy Habits For Improving Your Co-Parenting Communication:
1. Emotional Regulation
Emotional regulation is going to save you a lot of additional stress. If your co-parent is in the habit of gaslighting you or is uber controlling, then they will most likely find ways to provoke you to get an emotional reaction. They feed off of your emotional reaction in order to make you seem like the “bad guy” in the scenario. This is what makes them feel powerful watching you come unleashed and in pain.
To avoid giving them power over your emotional state, you’re going to want to clarify your triggers. Knowing your triggers is the first step to healing and staying outside of the perceived attack and being able to respond calmly to meet the needs of the children. While the manipulative co-parent will try to make it a power struggle of Me vs. You, you’ll want to make it about We vs. Problem you need to resolve for children.
2. Ditching The Need To Be Right
There is no need to be right when it comes to meeting the children’s needs. While you and your co-parent may have many different views on parenting if the children feel secure, emotionally and physically safe, and loved then this is all that matters.
Focusing on the nitty-gritty of who is right or wrong or who has the best way of doing things keeps you and your ex spinning down a path of destruction. Only the children suffer in the end versus accepting your household may function very differently from your co-parents.
3. Setting Healthy Boundaries
It’s best to begin establishing co-parenting boundaries as soon as possible; however, it’s never too late to start even if you have been divorced for years. Boundaries help you begin to define where you need to draw the line on what is no longer part of your relationship with your co-parent.
This may look like how often you communicate, are they allowed in your home, who can pick-up the kids up from school, when will you introduce new partners, who is allowed to babysit and so on. The boundaries can be included in your parenting plan as well as additional ones that may pop up as the kids mature or one parent remarries.
4. Using Constructive Communication
Constructive communication is about presenting options, solutions and finding ways to work around the obstacles they may get presented from time to time. When dealing with a challenging personality type they will most likely need to feel like they are in control. There is no need to get into a war with them and cause yourself more distress.
Constructive communication may look like staying positive, presenting two options for them to make the final decision since they want to feel like they are in control, and keeping a matter of fact demeanor when conversing. Being calm, concise, and constructive keeps your life flowing with ease.
5. Keeping It Child-Centered
It can be challenging to stay child-centered in the beginning because there may be so many marital things to still work out in the process of the divorce. At times, you may need to redirect the conversation back to the children if things become heated and you’re being personally attacked.
When dealing with a co-parent who likes to control you or your children you will need to learn phrases to diffuse the discord. You can say phrases such as, “How does this impact the children’s needs?” or “What do you think is best for the children in this situation?” We are shutting down the conflict and making the children the priority of the conversation, as your personal life is no longer their business.
If you feel you are struggling to transition your co-parenting relationship, set up a call with one of our co-parenting coaches to learn more.