Divorce Discourse: The Art of Co-Parenting
Divorce inevitably brings up a wide range of emotions for everyone in a family system. Grief, anger, guilt, sadness, and confusion are all par for the course with this difficult and life-changing decision.
The dissolution of a marriage with children is even more complicated and emotionally harrowing. The separation of a couple with children requires ongoing contact with one another for the purposes of co-parenting, which can sometimes feel daunting.
Divorcing parents can access help and support in their quest to do what’s right for their children. A collaborative approach is best; sometimes this is challenging when two people have come to an impasse in their relationship and may not have the same ideas in mind.
Communication is the most important aspect of co-parenting. In divorce situations, communicating with the other parent is sometimes colored by the undercurrent of resentment about the failed relationship. It may become too difficult to put these differences aside in order to communicate effectively. In these situations, the use of a Parenting Coordinator or Family Mediator can be an excellent solution.
Counseling or mediation can help divorcing parents come up with a parenting plan for the children. The parenting plan will focus on parental responsibility, time-sharing, the education plan of the children, their social and emotional well-being, healthcare needs, and other important issues.
There are also electronic applications that help separated or divorced parents communicate more effectively. The most common electronic applications include: Our Family Wizard, AppClose, coParenter, Talking Parents, to name a few. These applications can be used to help keep a collaborative calendar listing the activities of the children. Some of the application features include expense tracking, coordinating pick up and drop off times, a place to include the medical history of the children, and the ability to help you monitor your messages as the application may flag inappropriate language before you send a message to the other parent.
Communicating with the other parent may be emotionally charging based on past situations or memories. Seeking the support of a Parent Coordinator or a Family Mediator to facilitate fair decision making can have significant impact on the outcome of communication for the children, as well as the adults.
Divorce Discourse – The Art of Co-Parenting – 4 Tips for Improving Communication During Divorce
When communicating with the other party for the purposes of co-parenting remember these simple tips to help you communicate effectively:
- Maintain your focus. During communication, keep your focus on the needs of your children. It isn’t about the relationship anymore, it’s all about the needs of your children.
- Be polite and concise. As you converse with the other party about the children and try to communicate about their needs, use a courteous tone and stick to the purpose of the conversation. If they try to steer the conversation into murky, conflictual interpersonal topics, calmly redirect to the subject at hand. Most importantly keep the discussion child focused.
- Refrain from venting in front of your child. As frustrated as you may get with the other party, protect the children from your anger and don’t share grown-up details with them. Even if your frustrations are completely valid, your children will be damaged by hearing disparaging things about a person that they love.
- Avoid using the children as the messenger. Communicate directly with the other parent. It is your responsibility to not place the children in the middle of the parenting communication, this can be stressful and emotionally damaging to the child.
Remember that it is important to take care of yourself during these difficult times. It is important to listen to what your mind and body needs. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, exercise frequently, talk about your feelings to a friend, family member, or seek the professional help of a Licensed Counselor.
If you need to seek the services of a Parenting Coordinator, you can view a list of providers at: www.onlineparentingcoordinators.com. To research approved Family Mediators in your state visit: www.mediate.com.
Our practice Ocean Vista Counseling is located in Florida. Please visit our website at www.OceanVistaCounsel.com or like our Facebook Page. If you are interested in scheduling to see a Licensed Counselor or Family Mediator please call 386-449-8600.