Communicating with Your Ex

do's and don'ts

Communicating with your ex after a separation or divorce can be an emotional minefield. One wrong step and you are at each other’s throats. Keeping open lines of communication is an essential part of co-parenting.

Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to keep communication with your co-parent as civil as possible.

DO’S:

1. Set an appropriate tone

It is important to set a business-like tone when communicating. No matter how hostile and tense things are between the two of you, act as if they were a co-worker and stay professional and civil.

2. Stay on topic 

Focus on the problem or information at hand. Don’t get sidetracked by past arguments. Keep the focus on co-parenting your child and don’t fall into the temptation of rehashing old problems.

3. Be respectful and courteous

The two of you will have to learn to get along for the sake of your child. The more you can get along and show a united front, the easier the transition will be. To that end, keep things as civil as possible.

4. Compromise 

It may be tempting, but don’t turn parenting into a battle. Be willing to be flexible and don’t approach issues as things to “win” or “lose”.

5. Respond promptly 

Unresponsiveness can cause frustration on both ends. Remember you have the same goal – raising happy, healthy kids – so try to always respond in 24 hours. If it helps, make that expectation clear for both parties.

6. Focus on your children

7. Keep the emails brief 

If you keep emails short and to the point, it is easier to keep things on track and harder to get side tracked with arguments.

8. Commit to regular communication

Sporadic communication will only create gaps in your parenting, and your child will be the one who suffers. Keep both parents on the same page as much as possible. Shared calendars and messaging apps like WeParent can be invaluable in exchanging information.

9. Agree to consistent rules 

Keeping to regular standards and expectation can help reinforce the fact that you are equally invested in co-parenting as well as ensure you are presenting a united front.

10. Listen

It’s all too easy to view your ex as the enemy, but try and listen to what they have to say in regards to your children. You both have their best interests at heart.

DON’TS:

1. Use your child as a messenger 

This unfairly puts your child in the middle between two parents. Keep your child as removed as possible from any arguments as possible.

2. Be stubborn

Be prepared to compromise. You may have different ideas and styles of parenting, but it is important that you come to a consensus on how to handle things. Inconsistency will only cause confusion among your family.

3. Let your ego get the best of you 

You may feel like you are the better parent, or that you did more when you and your partner were together. However, you need to be prepared to share the responsibilities and accept that you may not always know the best. Ask for advice or have conversations about important things. Don’t just make decisions on your own.

4. Have disagreements in front of your children

Keeping communications simple and professional can help with the in person interactions as well. Your child doesn’t need to see you duke it out with your ex. Just show them that you both want to be involved and you will both be there for them. Parenting doesn’t have to be a battlefield.

5. Get other people involved

Don’t get new relationships involved, even as go-betweens. It is your child that needs parenting, so bringing in more people only further complicates things.

6. Prioritize conflict over the children

Your child is not a pawn, so don’t try and prevent them from spending time with your partner to hurt them. Your child loves you both, and being in the middle is incredibly difficult for them.

7. Start sentences with “You always..” or “You never…”

These phrases can all too quickly turn into personal attacks. Instead, keep your communications as professional and as brief as possible.

8. Jump to conclusions 

Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

9. Demand things rather than request them

Things are likely tense as it is. Demands will only cause hostilities, so try and keep communications phrased as requests to alleviate some of the tension.

10. Use swear words or other inappropriate language

No matter how infuriating your partner may be, keep calm. Inflammatory language will only make things harder.

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