Sharing custody is a challenge, in part, because parents are not in a good place in their relationship when they separate from one another. They may no longer communicate very effectively and may find themselves fighting whenever they talk.
It will take practice to establish better communication skills and reduce the conflict that the parents are used to now that they are caring for their children together in new ways. Here are several tips for those who are adjusting to a new co-parenting relationship that can help them improve their communication skills.
Communicate in writing, possibly using an app
One of the best ways to ensure that people remain calm and reasonable while communicating with their co-parent is to commit to a written record of all conversations. If someone knows there will always be a written record of what they say, they may think a little more carefully before communicating with their co-parent. It can be beneficial to have all discussions about custody matters in one place, which is why many co-parents turn to specialized apps. Additionally, having a written record to refer to can prevent gaslighting and miscommunication from damaging the relationship.
Keep topics focused on the children
Especially in the early days of co-parenting or when there are unique challenges, like the involvement of a new romantic partner, it is easy to end up focusing on the relationship between the parents and their history with one another instead of on the children. Parents need to recognize that their disputes with one another have to remain separate from their relationship as parents. They must continue to cooperate with one another for the benefit of their children for the rest of their lives. Keeping with conversation focused on the children and not conversing about personal topics can reduce the likelihood of intense emotional disputes.
Avoid withholding behavior
One of the ways that parents may feel like they have power over the situation when co-parenting involves intentionally not sharing details about the children with the other parent. However, they may not only sabotage their co-parenting relationship but also damage their relationship with the children by engaging in such behavior. Relevant information about a child’s relationships, education and health should not be something people use as leverage in their relationship with a co-parent. Being honest and transparent about relevant information as soon as is appropriate is crucial to maintaining healthy communication and a cooperative co-parenting situation.
Trying to maintain healthy communication skills and to rebuild a positive and cooperative relationship can take some of the stress out of shared custody for parents and can also protect children from the emotional damage often associated with parental disputes.