Effective communication is the foundation of every healthy co-parenting relationship. Though building this type of relationship may be second nature for some, it can be quite difficult for parents with a conflict-filled past. Having an understanding of the three main co-parenting communication styles can help parents identify their strengths and areas in which they could improve.
Developing a collaborative communication style can take some work, but if both parties are amenable to it this style can work well for all concerned. Parents who use this style of communication must have mutual respect. They are also generally able to converse with one another without much, if any, conflict. Additionally, they prioritize the needs of the children by easily adapting to changes in their parenting schedules and routines.
This communication style resembles a business partnership, as communication will be limited between parents unless significant issues arise. Generally, co-parents will adhere to the custody agreement and make their own decisions for minor, everyday matters. This style of communication works best for ex-couples who can tolerate one another and put their child’s interests above their own.
A high-conflict co-parenting relationship is harmful and destructive to everyone involved, especially the children. Parents with this communication style rarely converse directly, and if they do, it usually degrades into a verbal altercation. Most co-parents in this situation need family members, lawyers, or mediators to help them communicate without conflict.
How can co-parents improve their communication?
Communication with an ex-spouse is rarely easy, but co-parents who are open and willing to improve their communication techniques are already on the right path. While completely avoiding conflict is impossible, there are some things parents can do to limit arguments and protect their children’s well-being.
Setting and maintaining boundaries is essential to a successful co-parenting relationship. Creating boundaries that limit how often you talk with your ex-spouse can help reduce conflict. Additionally, parents can set boundaries around topics they feel should not be discussed, like past or current relationships.
In a high-conflict co-parenting situation, it’s common for both parents to become defensive during a disagreement. But, practicing active listening can help each parent stay civil when communicating. Furthermore, co-parents should give each other their undivided attention. This will allow you to fully understand each other’s point of view and increase the chances of solving the problem at hand.
After a divorce, it’s common to have high hopes about creating and maintaining a healthy relationship with your child’s other parent. But doing so isn’t always easy. By understanding each other’s communication style, however, co-parents can often improve their relationship with one another and do what’s best for their child.