Co-Parenting Made Easy: Expert Communication Tips For Single Mums
Communication is the key to any relationship – whether it be a relationship with a partner, family member, friend or co-worker. Communication between separated parents can be hugely challenging but is crucial to ensure co-parenting remains amicable and stress-free.
Here are some essential communication tips for separated parents from Ella Hickman of Hickman Family Lawyers based in Perth, WA.
Be Clear with Your Choice Of Words
The choice of words is crucial in any conversation, let alone in a potentially contentious discussion between you and your ex. Plan your choice of words well before engaging, focusing on getting your message across succinctly.
Speak calmly and clearly to ensure you’re fully understood and that your ex knows exactly what you’re saying. Stay focused on the issues at hand and avoid digressing onto other secondary and perhaps trivial matters, which may lead you to lose your train of thought or end up in an argument.
Remove The Emotion from Your Communications
As hard as it may be to communicate effectively with your ex, you need to try to remove the emotional factors.
A good habit to develop is to see your co-parenting relationship with your ex as nothing more than a business partnership. Keeping your discussions focused on child-related matters will make it easier for you both to communicate only when necessary.
Sticking strictly to the facts and keeping the communications calm and courteous may also encourage your ex to communicate with you similarly, reducing the risk of conflict and making life easier for the whole family.
Body Language Is Just as Important As What You Say
Body language and tone of voice during any discussion are just as important as your chosen words.
Be mindful of your body language at all times, as a roll of the eyes or a shake of the head can suggest you feel differently from what you are saying.
Use A Communication App for Co-Parenting
There are a wide range of co-parenting communication apps available today. These make communication between parents and children possible, reducing family stress and the risk of conflict.
Features often include messaging, setting up schedules, and structuring expenses, making it super simple to communicate effectively with your ex and stay on the topic of parenting without getting sidetracked into personal conversations.
Don’t Respond When Upset
It’s important to never say or write anything when you’re upset.
If your ex has said or written something that has triggered you, give yourself ample time to really think before responding. Avoid saying or writing anything in anger that you may live to regret or that may be potentially used against you in Court.
If you’re unsure how your response will be taken, ask a close friend or your family lawyer for advice before engaging.
Think About the Bigger Picture
If you have young children, accept that you’ll have to remain in contact with your ex for a long time. Making that as least painful and stress-free as possible just has to be your ultimate goal – the bigger picture. Whenever faced with any difficult situation, think hard before saying anything or making a decision that may jeopardise the bigger picture.
Avoid engaging in a heated argument with your ex over minor issues at all costs by always considering how it may affect the bigger picture.
Obtaining legal assistance and drawing up a parenting plan to suit your family’s needs can also be a helpful tool.
Put Your Children First
Putting your children first and constantly making decisions that are in their best interests removes the personal conflict that may exist between you and your ex. This makes it easier for both of you to reach the best decision for your children.
Don’t Disrespect Each Other
Taking the first step of letting go of the past and always showing respect to your ex will help them to reciprocate that behaviour and attitude.
This helps to set the tone for a more amicable co-parenting relationship, which benefits the whole family, especially the children.
Make Requests, Not Demands
Avoid making demands, but make requests instead. Involve your ex in key decision-making and ask for their help when needed. Being flexible and helping each other in a crisis or unexpected event can help you both and will always be best for the children.
Really Listen to Your Ex
Just as crucial in making yourself fully understood when you speak is listening carefully to what they are saying.
Refrain from making assumptions before they are finished talking, and ensure you fully understand what they’re saying before responding.
If you’re unsure of what they may be trying to convey, stay calm, remove any emotions and ask questions until you understand what they are saying. Many heated arguments are the result of someone not really listening.
Communicating consistently has multiple benefits for the whole family.
Firstly, it sends the message to the children that you’re still a family as long as the interaction or communication between the co-parents is done peacefully.
That also sets a healthy example for the children to follow in their own relationships in the future. Communicating with your children consistently will reassure them that you still love and care for them, even if they are not always with you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Apologise
Nothing defuses a heated argument and relieves a stressful situation better than a genuine apology.
If you feel you have said the wrong thing, overreacted or done something you regret, don’t hesitate to apologise and admit that you got it wrong. Saying “sorry” does not show weakness but strength of character.
Take Care of your Mental Health
It’s important to note that when you’re in a good emotional and mental state, it reflects on how you communicate with your ex. After a separation, it’s common to experience emotional upheaval that can strain you, especially in the early days. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to seek help. Single Mama Way Counselling offers practical tools and strategies that can provide you with additional support.
Need more tips on your co-parenting journey? Check out these previously written articles;