Co-parenting is full of decisions you’ll have to make with the other co-parent(s), whether you like each another or not. Cooperating and communicating without major blow-ups or bickering makes decision-making far easier on everybody.
●Relieving stress in the moment—no matter who you’re dealing with. It may seem impossible to stay calm when dealing with a difficult ex-spouse who’s hurt you in the past or has a real knack for pushing your buttons. But by practicing quick stress relief techniques, you can learn to stay in control when the pressure builds.
●Peaceful, consistent, and purposeful communication — even though it may seem absolutely impossible. This is achievable of you think about communication with the co-parent(s) as having the highest purpose: your child’s well-being. Before contact, ask yourself how your talk will affect your child, and resolve to conduct yourself with dignity. Make your child the focal point of every discussion you have with the co-parent(s).
●Explore most efficient form of communication. It isn’t always necessary to meet in person — speaking over the phone or exchanging texts or emails is fine for the majority of conversations. The goal is to establish conflict-free communication, so see which type of contact works best for you. Whether talking via email, phone, or in person, the following methods can help you initiate and maintain effective communication:
●Set a business-like tone. Approach the relationship with the co-parents as a business partnership where your “business” is your children’s well-being. Speak or write as you would a work colleague—with cordiality, respect, and neutrality. Relax and talk slowly. Having a business mentality may help you to avoid being sidetracked when your buttons get pushed. For example, one good business principle that applies in many circumstances is trying to find the common ground. Whenever possible, agree with some aspect of what the co-parent is saying even if you disagree with the main point. “You're right, every other kids in school have an ipad and he’ll feel left out. I’m just wondering if he should be rewarded with one right now given his poor grades.” If you can’t “close the deal” because of personal pain or attacks, politely take a time out from negotiations. Return to the table later when you have gathered yourself.
●Keep conversations kid-focused. You can control the content of your communication. Never let a discussion digress into a conversation about your needs or his/her needs; it should always be about your child's needs only.
●Respect can go a long way. Simple manners are often neglected between co-parents, even though they should be the foundation for co-parenting. Being considerate and respectful includes letting the other co-parent(s) know about school events, being flexible about your schedule when possible, and taking his or her opinion seriously.
●Keep talking. It might sound tedious, but if you disagree about something important, you will need to continue to communicate about the topic. Never discuss your differences of opinions with or in front of your child. If you still can’t agree, you may need to talk to a third party, like a therapist or mediator.
●Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you disagree about important issues like a medical surgery or choice of school for your child, by all means keep the discussion going. But if you want your child in bed by 7:30 and the other co-parents says 8:00, try to let it go and save your energy for the bigger issues.
●Compromise. You will need to come around to the other co-parent’s point of view as often as he or she comes around to yours. It may not always be your first choice, but compromise allows you both to “win” and makes both of you more likely to be flexible in the future.