Co-parents share responsibility for their children and must, therefore, work cooperatively in order for their arrangement to be effective. However, many co-parents struggle to maintain a positive relationship and may fall into unhealthy communication patterns.
Adults often focus so much on their own emotional reactions to changing family circumstances that they fail to consider what their negative attitude toward their co-parent might do to their children. Co-parenting is an inevitability for most couples with children who change their relationship status, and that means that the adults in the family need to think about how to make the situation as low-stress for their children as possible.
Appropriate and healthy communication practices can potentially make a big difference in a co-parenting relationship. How can co-parents improve their communication in a shared custody arrangement?
Using written communication only
Written communication also offers people an opportunity to calm down and there will be a permanent record of what they say. Some people communicate via text message and email to preserve a written record of all their agreements. Others use parenting apps for the same purpose, which can also serve as a helpful reminder to keep the communication solely about the children.
Keep the other parent in the loop as much as possible
Some people embrace the idea that less communication is always better, but a parent that goes multiple days without communicating about their children may become anxious. Touching base about the children’s day at school, who won the basketball game and what happened with the big history test are all good co-parenting moves. So long as the communication remains completely focused on the children, proactively sharing information about their circumstances with one another can keep both parents feeling connected and may reduce the tension between them.
Know not to communicate out of anger
Few things will damage a co-parenting relationship more quickly than words said out of spite in a moment of conflict. Parents should try their best to keep emotions out of their communications as much as possible and to avoid making accusations against one another until they know the full story of what happened.
Making a healthy and positive co-parenting relationship a priority for the family will benefit co-parents by reducing their stress and also children by eliminating some of the harmful side effects of tension-filled shared custody arrangements.