5 Healthy Communication Tips for Divorced Parents
After a divorce, communicating with your ex-spouse can be troublesome and strenuous. The ways you used to communicate with one another may no longer be constructive now that your relationship has undergone a significant change. Dismissing this fact is not an effective (or healthy) route to take when you both are caring for your children.
To help in your transition, Burrows Law Group offers five vital communication pointers for recently divorced parents:
Good communication is possible. It may not be easy (it takes work), but it’s possible. And it starts by finding the right method and tone of delivery.
Our tone of voice tells the truth even when our words do not—even if we are somewhat oblivious to the truth ourselves. We can say what can be written as the sweetest statement in a fashion that provokes a verbal pungency, thus leading to an argument where we respond to tone rather than words.
We all are guilty of being unaware of the tensions that may be brewing underneath the surface. Sometimes it seems like our bad instincts take over during an argument or when receiving criticism. Rather than put the shields up and load the cannons, pause to reflect on how tone could have caused the reaction. When you unspool your emotions, you may find some underlying feelings of the moment.
Be conscious of yourself to improve yourself and those around you.
- Co-Parenting, Not Competitive Parenting
Too often, co-parenting is turned into a competition. Parents ignore the “co” part of it and feed the impulse of wanting to be the favorite in the eyes of the children. Divorced life is not an easy ocean to navigate. It takes checklists, preparation, equipment and (most importantly) a cooperative partnership.
Children are individuals, and each child develops at their own pace. Intellectually, this may be a simple statement to recognize. Emotionally, however, it may be much harder.
When you feel competitive with your ex, you can fall into passive-aggressive patterns of antagonizing and baiting each other. Break the cycle, set a business-like tone, and put your hurt and anger aside. You just may be surprised by the results and the feelings that transpire.
When we were young, we were told such things as, “Don’t cry,” and “Keep it together.” As a culture, we are taught to avoid unpleasant emotions. But it’s important to allow yourself to process and experience true feelings. Friends, therapists, or even pets make good listeners when you need to get some negative feelings off your chest.
That said, do not make your children your therapists. Honesty is vital, most certainly; however, including your children in on your issues with your ex (their mother or father) is only going to bring about toxicity.
- Bad Messenger
After a divorce, one of your goals may be to have as little contact with your ex as possible. But you will soon realize how many things it is essential to communicate about, whether that is how child support is going to be paid or what time you are dropping off the kids. Your head could be itching at the thought of using your children as a simple way to convey a message to the other parent. As harmless as it sounds, do not scratch that itch!
When you do this, you bring your children into the center of the conflict. You may see divorce as the end of the conflict, but in your children’s eyes, the battle is ongoing and is forever going to be part of their life. Every message you ask your children to pass along has an emotional undertone to it. It’s asking your children to be mature enough to handle it, which isn’t fair to them. They have to send the message and then witness the other parent’s reaction, and your children will interpret that reaction as being directed at them.
Your goal should be to keep your children out of your relationship issues. Go to the door or car yourself to talk to the other parent, or call them later. Stick a note in the mailbox or send an email. Do whatever you can to get your kids out of the line of fire.
- Make Transitions
A lot of change comes with a divorce. The move from one household to another can be tough for children. Those transitions are unavoidable, but there are steps you can take to make it run smoother.
For one, you can help children anticipate the change. Discuss it with your kids and don’t let positivity slip away. While you may be boiling with anger from your ex, do not intrude on your children’s happiness. Ask them about their time, keep it low-key, and don’t let jealousy enter the picture (that could lead us back to point number two).
Of course, these five suggestions for communication are not comprehensive, but rather serve as helpful pointers. It doesn’t happen in the snap of a finger. Every relationship is different. But the main takeaway is to be aware and make your children your number one priority. Our actions can generate waves that can have lifelong effects.
If you have any questions about divorce or another family law issue, Burrows Law Group is more than happy to assist. We have an experienced team that will help you with the process and keep your best interests at heart. Call (972) 402-6266 to speak to an attorney today!