Anger, fear, jealousy, hatred and even unresolved love. There are so many reasons why communication with one’s co-parent can be a challenge.
With all those feelings at play, it is not uncommon that any of those feelings can have one looking backwards in their communication with the ex.
A backwards communication looks to blame or explain or educate or make assumptions.
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Backwards communications tend to keep people immersed in conflict and/or unresolved feelings.
In view of those backwards looking communications, the issues of the day are rarely resolved. People are too distracted seeking to set the record straight on their perception of who did what to whom when.
With that in mind, consider these tips:
- Getting along better, or at least having more peaceful communication with your co-parent means only informing of current events and keeping an eye strictly on the future.
- Reminding of lack of trust and who was more disappointing for what only serves to distract from where one seeks to go. So, with that in mind and looking towards a more peaceful co-existence, consider the quality of your communications without seeking to have the other work on theirs.
- With that, do not get immersed or distracted by the past thrown into your face. Ignoring name calling or blame can release you from the hook of responding.
- When responding to a communication, keep it short, polite and to the point. Ignore their sizzle and concentrate only on the matter at hand.
- The communication should offer information, not advise. Trying to tell an angry or hateful former partner what to do is like waving a red flag to a bull. Certainly, you may say what works for you, but with no expectation that your co-parent do the same. What they do remains up to them.
- Remember, the thing about bait is to keep you hooked. If you no longer take the bait, you are no longer hooked. When fishing, if one isn’t catching anything, eventually they look elsewhere.
If things are particularly difficult with your co-parent, consider a separation coach with expertise in communicating with difficult people. The coach may provide specific guidance to you in your situation. While you may never change your co-parent, the quality of your communication may offer less for them to react to. That would be in your favor.
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 600 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.