“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. ” George Bernard Shaw
A husband and wife arrive at a mediation session furious at each other and not speaking. The wife is upset because the husband missed their son’s presentation of his school science project. The husband says he is heartbroken because he was looking forward to the presentation, but the wife didn’t tell him the date.
“I only heard about it after it was over!” the father says angrily.
“I thought John (the son) told you the date,” the mother says, genuinely surprised.
Co-parenting after a divorce is difficult. You and your former spouse have to cooperate, making decisions together about your children despite any lingering animosity or hurt you feel towards each other. Co-parenting post-divorce is challenging for practical reasons as well.
When two parents are no longer under the same roof, they lose the ability to talk about the children at the end of the evening, or while watching TV together. All those ordinary everyday moments that you’ve always had to speak about the kids are suddenly gone. Now you and your former spouse have to find new ways to communicate about your children. In mediation, we help you determine:
The best methods for you and your spouse to use when communicating.
The best times for you to communicate.
Whether it’s better to e-mail, phone, text, twitter or talk face-to-face — that is the question: Each couple has to decide how best to communicate post-divorce. There is no one right way. But there is a wrong way — as the above example illustrates. Don’t unfairly burden your son or daughter by trying to communicate with your former spouse through your child.
E-mail doesn’t work if you read too much between the lines: There are many divorced parents who use e-mail or texting very successfully to communicate about their children. But in our practice, we’ve also seen how emails have fueled couples’ anger at each other. A wife once came to mediation very Moncler outlet upset that her husband had emailed saying she’d left their daughter’s doll at her house. “I knew he was hinting that I’m a bad mother for forgetting the doll,” she said indigently. It became clear in the mediation session that the mother and father were both convinced that the emails they received from each other often contained veiled insults. When the parents followed our suggestion to substitute emails with phone calls, they reported that they had less fights and were able to decided issues about their daughter more easily.
Talk isn’t always cheap — it can come at too high a price: Sometimes when a divorce has been particularly painful, direct communication with a former spouse is too difficult, not just in person, but even on the phone. In this type of situation, it’s great to be living in an age when there are so many technologies that can keep you in touch with each other quickly, yet with the ability to stay detached. An email, a tweet, a text between exes, might be the best way to keep the peace during the most emotional times.
When you talk to your ex about the children can be just as important as how you two communicate: Here are a few helpful suggestions:
If you’re calling to talk about something important but not urgent make sure it’s a good time for the other parent. (Parents have complained that they are called too often at work for nonemergency situations.) The best days & times are something that can be discussed in mediation.
Even if your parenting agreement doesn’t require it, give the other parent as much notice as possible if you want to take your child away on a vacation.
If you’re getting along well with your ex, those few minutes when your child is being dropped off or picked up might be a good time to talk to each other about routine matters, such as one parent notifying the other that soccer practice is on a new night. Many parents like to sit down together every year as soon as the school calendar comes out, so they can discuss the child’s activities, holidays and schedule for that school year.
The benefits of communicating well with your former spouse are a multitude. You’ll make better faster decisions about your child. And the person who will be listening and feeling the greatest sense of security from hearing you communicating well, of course, will be your child.
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