CO-PARENTING: THE TOUGHEST JOB IN THE WORLD


co-parenting

They say that being a parent is the toughest job in the world.  It is.  Try throwing a divorce into the mix, and it is unfair how hard it is.  You are taking care of things by yourself, but yet, there is another parent stirring the batter.

I have two children.  They are 10 and 6.  My six year old boy has some issues with his temper and impulse control.  I have asked my ex to help me in the discipline department, because let’s face it, not many kids are afraid of the Mom’s of this world.

For those of you that don’t ask the other parent for help, it’s called co-parenting.  You ask for help when you need the help, because after all, you share children and always will.  Recently I sent my ex an email asking for help.

I am not going to show the whole email, just pieces of it that pertain to co-parenting.  The point of this exercise is to show you that you need to ask, no matter what the outcome.

This is not the first time I have asked you to speak to him about his lack of control. I am asking you to talk to him to see if you can figure out why he is having impulsive anger issues.  I am willing to take your lead and handle him the way you deem best to get this under control, but it does need your attention and it does need to get under control.  Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

I’ll talk to him also.  Although this type of behavior happens in boys of this age, hitting is never acceptable.

I agree and appreciate it.  I need you to step up the discipline on your end, and the timing of this latest incident is perfect since he is at your house.

I will do what I can but it’s obvious, of course, that improvement in xxx’s behavior while he’s in your possession will be up to you.  …perhaps you might want to re-think your approach to discipline and getting him to do what you want him to do.

I am out of ideas, which is why I am asking you! … if you could tell me the best approach to discipline that you think will be the most effective with xxx I would really appreciate it.

Unless I was in the house with you, I can’t tell you the “best approach”.  Perhaps we can talk about it sometime.

I am the pink and he is the blue.  I wasn’t shut down, but I was put away for another time.  When you face an issue with one of your children, do not allow yourself to be put away for another time.  No matter what you think of that person that you married for better or worse, and subsequently divorced, you still have to raise children with them.  Ask for help and ask again.  Keep asking until you get cooperation.  In fact, I foresee another email going out in a week or so, don’t you?

Acknowledge, accept, empower and heal.

CO-PARENTING COMMUNICATION

Communicating after divorce is vital when you have children.  It is also extremely difficult.  There are so many different ways to communicate with your ex-spouse, and one way is not better than the other.  In the end, it is all about what works best for you as a couple and, more importantly, as an individual.
For us, communicating by email works best.  Why?  Because my ex is a lawyer, so speaking to him can be a lesson in futility and patience.  This does have its drawbacks though.  For instance, sometimes he doesn’t answer the emails, and this often breeds anger and resentment.  Also, the importance of what I am trying to say can get lost in an email.

Does it work?  Periodically.  We have gone through many times where he has decided that it was not worth answering an email, or he would answer when he felt it was appropriate.  It has caused many a communication breakdown in co-parenting; which has not served either of us or our children.

Although we have mostly mastered the art of co-parenting by email, the written word can get lost in translation.  You can’t tell the other how important the issue is or get the point across as well as you can face to face. Of course, sometimes you can get your point across even better because you aren’t faced with interruptions, rolling eyes, arguments or anger.

The best part?  The rewrite.  My first draft is generally full of anger and hate.  Being able to sit on the email, sometimes for days, before hitting send has served me well.  I am able to go back to it and edit out the anger and delete the resentment while rewriting the hate.  I can then send a cohesive and comprehensive email that is to the point and just covers what needs to be covered.  I can also write it in a way that is not aggressive and still get my point across.

And, the most important part of communicating by email is that you never know when you will need to have the proof that you told your ex what they needed to know.  Save all the emails.  Make a little inbox within your inbox just for those emails and the responses you receive or don’t receive for that matter.  I find that I often go back and look over emails to see if I have told him things he needs to know and more importantly, if he has answered.  It is also good to have just in case you ever are back in that courtroom.

How do you communicate with your ex?  Do you have any tricks to make the co-parenting communication go smoother?

Sarah Bates

During my 5 years in the divorce industry, I gained a lot of knowledge.  Knowledge of the court system and how it works, knowledge on how to let go of the anger, knowledge on how to communicate and most importantly, knowledge on how to empower power people to stay out of court.

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