After a separation or divorce, you may wonder “Do I have to communicate with my child’s father?” The simple answer is yes.
It is important to have some level of contact with your child’s father simply because he is the other parent. If you can create an effective way of communicating with your child’s father, you will save yourself a lot of stress and headache.
The first thing you should do to make communication possible is to visualize the future. Ask yourself, “Do I want my child to have his or her father at the wedding?”, “Do I want to have a calm and peaceful life moving forward?” If the answers to these questions are yes, then create a vision and welcome the ways on fulfilling that vision.
Your vision of your future relationship with your children and their father is important as well. It may be particularly difficult and challenging to communicate with their father if there are past issues that remain unresolved. In this case, you can choose whether you would like to have communication directly or indirectly.
Direct communication is when you speak directly to your ex through calls, texts, or emails. Indirect communication is when you speak to your ex through a mediator or a lawyer.
When communicating with your child’s father, understand what you can and can’t control. Simply put, you can control your own emotions, feelings, reactions, and behavior. You cannot control his. Just take responsibility for your part in the communication.
Communication is crucial to a successful co-parenting arrangement. It is your choice if you want to minimize communication, but you should definitely not cut it because as co-parents you will need ongoing communication to be able to coordinate what is best for your child’s life.
You are not required to communicate with your child’s father all the time though. It will greatly depend on numerous things such as the age of your child, their current state of mind, the shared finances between you two, occasionally during holidays, birthdays and other important events in your child’s life, etc. You will rarely communicate and the schedule can be set except on emergencies.
In communicating with your father’s child, you can use some guidelines to help you assess if there is really a need to communicate with him:
1. Topics should be about your children only
Normally, co-parents only talk about their children or something that would affect their children, unless, both of you actually consent to talk about some other topics.
But, it is recommended you keep the boundaries and communicate only about what the children needs. You can cut down on the communication if you feel like your child’s father is talking about some things that are not really connected to your children. Have some boundaries with each other.
2. Reduce texting/calling
Emergencies aside of course, there is really no need to exchange texts with your child’s father. If communication happens once a day, both you and the co-parent should just sum it up in one clear message to reduce any conflicts or future problems.
3. Avoid the drama
Any communication with your child’s father should only be about the present or near future. All topics outside should be regarded as unnecessary.
If the past is somehow brought up, it will only most likely lead to drama which is the last thing you want.
4. Accept that the both of you may have different parenting styles
There are four (4) types of parenting styles: Authoritarian. Authoritative. Permissive. Uninvolved.
Explore how both you and your ex’s parenting style benefit your children. The best scenario is for the both of you to complement each other. For example, an authoritarian parent and a permissive parent can strike the perfect balance for the good upbringing of children. In the end though, whatever parenting style you both have, as long as you keep your children’s interests at heart and in mind, then your co-parenting will work.
The Toxic Ex
Co-parenting with an ex is difficult enough. Setting up a co-parenting relationship with a toxic ex is a whole other level. You wanted to shift your focus to the best upbringing your children could have even though their parents are separated and while you are doing this, you will have to manage a toxic ex.
With a toxic ex, the boundaries in your relationship could get blurry, so here are some tips also to have an effective communication with your toxic ex:
1. Establish clear terms
For a smooth and trouble-less relationship, the both of you should make a clear agreement as possible. When there are lingering emotions involved, making a black-and-white agreement will surely help you both in the long run.
2. Do not make your child the messenger
Whatever happens never make the child your messenger. Children do not need the burden of any unwanted emotions between their parents. Never add to their burden. Never make them feel like they are required to choose who is the better parent or even try to diminish the respect or the love they have for the other parent.
3. Keep calm and carry on
Always stay calm and collected at all situations. At times, staying calm is the hardest thing to do but if you try to stay cool even if your ex says something that ticks you off, you will be happy you did. Breathe in then breathe out. Do this multiple times until you calm yourself. If you do this more often, it will become a habit of yours whenever you get triggered by your ex. Also, keep in mind that your ex’s words or actions should no longer affect you. Carry on.
Consider making a parenting plan to help with communicating about your children and making arrangements.
A Co-Parenting agreement or a co-parenting plan is an agreement between two adults regarding the collective raising of both their children. This is a non-binding contract but is important as it outlines the goals and rules regarding how the parents will contribute to child care.
Below are some of the points you should include in your co-parenting agreement:
· Disciplining the children
· Dating rules
· Food and nutrition
· Terms of communication
· System of rewards and punishment
· Forbidden activities
· Medical care
· Financial matters
· School and education
· Extra-curricular activities
· Scheduling of activities
· Electronics usage
· Holidays and school breaks
· Parenting time
· Decision-making guidelines
We go back to our primary question of whether or not you should communicate with your ex. Above are just some of the reasons on why you should.
Co-Parenting App: Our Family Wizard
Yes, there is an app to make co-parenting easier!
Our Family Wizard (OFW) is a co-parenting tool and mobile application that allows parents to communicate and share centralized child-centered information and communications regarding the child with their co-parent.
Courts and Family Law Attorneys suggest trying Our Family Wizard to help co-parents upload and manage children’s activities, share calendars and co-parenting schedules. It can also track expenses, share medical and school files, and send secure messages through the software. It is court-approved since 2001 in 50 states including Virginia to provide real solutions to shared parenting communication challenges. You can visit OFW’s website here to learn more: https://www.ourfamilywizard.com
There is really no secret to co-parenting. It requires time, effort, work and lots of communication. You will need to face your ex and somehow build a good relationship with him one way or another. You can set-up co-parenting agreements in place or back-up agreements just in case. You can use co-parenting apps to ease the burden. But one thing is for sure though, if you ever find yourself needing help in drafting agreements, or orders for custody or visitation, or anything law-related, you can contact our Virginia Family Law Attorney Tori Bramble. Call us at (540) 628-7340 or visit our website at www.bramblelawfirm.com.