Regardless of the level of conflict in your divorce, when the marriage ends, parents must find a new way of relating to each other. Couples who choose mediation as the venue for dissolving their marriage gain the advantage of learning about the importance of healthy communication. They also gain valuable skills about how to resolve conflict in productive ways that preserve the relationship. Since healthy, clear communication is the key to any kind of relationship, working on developing communications with your co-parent will strengthen and improve your relationship.
Here are five tips to help co-parents improve their level of communication with each other, which will in turn make life easier for the children involved:
- Remember the power of forgiveness
Forgiving is not forgetting, but the ability to forgive the other and let the past remain in the past serves to clear the decks so to speak and make the way clear for a new relationship. When you can forgive yourself for your shortcomings, and forgive your co-parent for theirs, you are taking a vital first step towards healthy communication and focusing on the present and future as parents, as compared to the past.
- Get ready for the changes ahead
It has been said that the only constant is change. Be open to and prepared for the changes in your relationship with your co-parent giving consideration to the best interest of your child and his or her needs.
- Commit to open communication with your co-parent
It takes a commitment to be able to stick with something new. Whether you communicate through the phone, text messages, email or in-person, keep in touch with details about your child’s life, health and development. It is helpful to share calendars and make accommodation when schedules are in conflict. The golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated is a good foundation on which to build your co-parenting relationship.
- Find positive things to say to your child about your co-parent
Your child is a part of both of you. When you speak negatively about their other parent, your child cannot help but take that in and feel the sting. Model a civil relationship with thoughtful and non-confrontational communication.
- Do not use your child as a messenger
Communicate directly with your co-parent. Remember to catch yourself every time you start to say, “please tell your mother to….” or “ask your dad if….” Let your child be a child and do not use him or her to pass messages between you.
Bonus Tip: Be open to asking for help
No one said that learning how to be an effective co-parent was going to be easy. If you find it difficult to deal with the challenges of co-parenting, ask for help. There are Virginia Court approved parenting classes available. You might also want to work with a counselor to help you work through unresolved issues from your marriage that could potentially hinder a good, working relationship with your co-parent.
At Divorce Mediation Associates, our mediators help couples throughout Northern Virginia find positive, economical solutions for ending their marriages and encouraging healthy co-parenting communication. We commit to being a neutral third party to guide you in arriving at positive co-parenting decisions for the best interest of your child and otherwise shepherding the divorce process in a smooth and positive way. You can get more information about mediation or divorce, please call 703-665-7592, or contact us to schedule an in-person appointment at our office in Reston.