Sorting out parenting arrangements after separation can be difficult, particularly when there are problems with communicating with your ex. It is important to remember that the way parents choose to communicate with each other can be beneficial, or, in some cases, detrimental to a child’s wellbeing.
Here are some important things to avoid when communicating with your ex after separation:-
- Argue at changeover – don’t argue with your ex at changeover. If there are problems don’t create a scene or an issue at changeover, this can cause real anxiety for children. Don’t retaliate to bad behaviour by your ex, shut down the conflict with phrases such as “I will come back to you about this later”. Changeovers can be a difficult time with kids moving between households, this change can create anxiety without conflict between you and your ex making it worse.
- Use Children as messengers – don’t pass messages to your ex through your children. Children should not be involved in parenting issues. They will watch and take on what you say and how the other person reacts to the message when it is delivered. How do you think they would feel being right in the middle of the conflict?
- Criticise and talk negatively about your ex in front of the children – your ex is their parent. How do you think they feel when you speak about your ex negatively?
- Complain on Social Media – don’t say negative things about your ex on social media (and be careful about what you post and what other people post about you). These comments may end up attached to your ex’s court material and read by a Judge in parenting proceedings. Parenting cases are filled with content from Facebook or Snapchat. Worse still your children could read it.
- Talk about legal proceedings – don’t talk to your children about legal proceedings or talk about the proceedings with other people in front of your children or in their hearing.
- Enrol in a post separation parenting course to learn about effective communication and how to talk to your ex. If you go through Court it is likely the Judge will order that you attend one of these courses anyway. In the Mackay and Whitsunday areas there are courses run through:
- Relationships Australia – Focus on Kids course
- Uniting Care – Post separation Co-Operative Parenting course
- Support and encourage your children’s relationship with the other parent when talking about your ex. Your adult issues with your ex should be separate and different to your kids’ relationship with the other parent. Be supportive of the other parent, even if they are not being supportive of you. Do not retaliate, there are other options.
- Participate in mediation to work out a written Parenting Plan, which can reduce the risk of conflict about parenting arrangements. This will also avoid the need to constantly negotiate. If you have separated, communication is likely to be a challenge. Reduce the amount you need to negotiate about.
- Communicate respectfully with the other parent. Limiting communication to email and text message, rather than by telephone or face to face, can sometimes help to reduce the risk of conflict.
- Communication to the point and child focused – it is not productive to use your emails or text messages as a forum to restate old grievances or unresolved relationship issues with the other parent.