There is an end date to poor communication with an ex-partner (ex) once you have reached a property settlement and provided there were no children of your relationship. However, if you do have children with your Ex, there is no end date. How you choose to engage in communication with them is critical to serving the best interests of your children.
I would like to think that a majority of my day is dedicated to solving legal problems however, an alarming amount of my parenting matters also involve dealing with non-legal issues such as poor communication or interactions between parents. Even the best attempt at showing goodwill or developing the ideal solution for the children can be impeded by non-legal conflicts between parents.
There has been a significant amount of research into the effect that poor communication and a parents’ ability to effectively co-parent has on children with separated parents. Poor communication leads to higher incidences of conflict between parents after separation. Children who are exposed to parents in high conflict are at a greater risk of experiencing economic, social, psychological and health difficulties through childhood and early adulthood and they can take longer to adjust to the separation and divorce. Surely, this is not the end game for either parent.
Common pitfalls made by clients in relation to their communication and interaction with the other parent of their child can be avoided.
If you are experiencing high conflict with your Ex, some (not all) areas of consideration are:
- Understanding your triggers – You have just been in a relationship with the other parent so it should be no surprise that they will know what triggers will make you feel stressed, overwhelmed, angry or Similarly, you will know their triggers. Breaking the dynamic of setting off each other’s triggers is important to being able to communicate effectively about your children. Do not be afraid to invest in external supports to assist you in overcoming this dynamic. Both you and your children will benefit.
- You do not need to respond to every piece of communication from your former partner — The most unproductive part of our current social conditioning with technology is that we feel the need to have the last win by text. While it is upsetting to receive communication from your ex about you, your family or your parenting style, there is little to no benefit in responding or engaging with such communication. It will not improve future communication and will most likely erode the parenting relationship further and increase conflict. If a response is not necessary, does not improve the situation or change the other persons view on an issue, leave it alone.
- Create and enforce boundaries – Some clients have found it easier to adopt a business‑like approach to communicating with the other parent. This can achieve effective communication however is often easier said than practiced. Agreeing on a method of communication, the frequency of communication and what the communication will be about is the first step to establishing a new line of communication. These boundaries for communication need to be realistic and achievable for you both to ensure that you limit your children’s exposure to any potential conflict between their parents.
No matter how difficult communicating with your Ex may seem, put the best interests of your children first. Your children will learn how to communicate with you, their other parent, their peers, teachers, family and community from observing the way you and their other parent interact.
If you are having trouble communicating with your former partner about ongoing parenting arrangements, give us a call on 03 8393 0142 to discuss how we can assist you in achieving an agreement.