For a lot of parents, being angry with your co-parent can be a constant and challenging issue. Whether they disregarded drop-off time or did not communicate a schedule change, anger can make a day-to-day appearance.
When you are angry, you are more likely to act without reason and logic. You are in an emotionally charged state, which can cloud your judgment, and ultimately put your children in harm’s way.
Being angry with your co-parent from time to time is inevitable, but how you respond is what is most important.
Diffusing anger means shifting from a “me” mindset to a “we” mindset. You and your co-parent must realize that you have the same end goal, which is doing what is best for your children.
Here Are 5 Essentials For Diffusing Anger With Your Co-Parent
1. Positive Mindset
Without a positive mindset, it will be difficult to come to an agreement with your co-parent. This starts with self-care. Set aside time for yourself each day to take care of your own emotional health.
Self-care can look like:
Getting enough sleep
Maintaining a healthy diet
Practicing deep breathing
Reaching out to friends and family
Self-care will help you think more clearly and focus on what you want out of a disagreement with your co-parent. When you are angry with your co-parent, having a positive mindset will change how you react to their attacks.
2. Discovery Questions
In a heated disagreement with your co-parent, discovery questions are essential to understanding the problem at hand. These will not only keep you outside of the attack but will also diffuse a situation fueled by intense emotions.
Discovery questions include Where, What, How, When, Help Me Understand, and Can You Tell Me More. Avoid asking “why” questions as these tend to put people in defense mode. They may feel personally attacked or believe you are judging their actions. For example,
Instead of saying, Why aren’t the kids ready for pickup yet?
Try, What time can you have the kids ready for pickup by?
Instead of saying, Why didn’t you answer my call?
Try, We had agreed to speak at 1 pm. Can you help me understand how come I couldn’t reach you?
In these examples, using discovery questions helps resolve the disagreement rather than attacking the co-parent. Discovery questions are used to help you understand your co-parent’s perspective. Rather than feed into their attacks, you will be able to reach a more positive outcome by remaining objective.
3. 3C’s Of Communication
In a disagreement with your co-parent, the 3C’s of communication will be your most effective tool. This means you are Calm, Concise, and Constructive.
Calm: Conveying your thoughts and feelings in a calm tone of voice. By remaining calm, you can resolve disagreements using logic and reason rather than emotional outbursts.
Concise: Messages should be straight to the point and stick to the facts. Short and firm points will help keep misunderstandings from happening. Concise messages are also easier to read and comprehend, so there is not a lot of room for confusion.
Constructive: Conversations are about improvement and growth. This means moving from a “me” to “we” mindset. How can WE work together to solve this issue?
You or your co-parent may only see an issue from your own perspective. This can result in attacks or ignoring the other’s contributions, which only leads to more conflict. Use the 3C’s to focus on the facts, not the attacks.
Your relationship values are based on what you live by in order to seek fulfillment from life. They also act as guidelines for what you will and will not accept in your relationships. While everyone has different relationship values some common examples are Integrity, Time, Open Communication, Honesty, and Teamwork.
Your values are a foundation of how you honor your self-worth as you communicate with your co-parent. If trust was an issue in your relationship before you got divorced, this can help you identify that you value honesty as you redefine your relationship with this person.
It is also important to honor your relationship values and not disconnect from them. For example, if one of your values is open communication but you keep your co-parent in the dark, it will be difficult to ask for open communication in return because you were unable to live by that value.
5. Healthy Boundaries
Having healthy boundaries is necessary in order to resolve a conflict at a heightened emotional state. Boundaries are used to shut down disrespect and resolve disagreements from a place of mutual understanding. This is where your relationship values will come in. For example, you might say:
I’m feeling disrespected due to the verbal attacks and it's making it hard to communicate. I value constructive communication. How can we calmly focus on what is best for the children?
When my parenting style is undermined it makes it difficult to co-parent. I value teamwork. How can we reach a solution so that our children are taken care of?
Using healthy boundaries with your co-parent will help you communicate from a place of logic, remain respectful, and help you decide what is the best outcome for your children.