Communicating with a Co-Parent in the Era of Rapid-Fire Responses

Co-Parenting is a whole new ball game when you first start a family law matter. The hope is that both you and your co-parent are on amicable terms, but the reality is this may not be the case now or in the future. Learning to communicate with a co-parent can and will take time. You may even need to have some refreshers every so often. That is normal. You are not alone in the struggle to find a new balance in a co-parenting relationship.  

The first and probably the largest shift in mindset comes from viewing the relationship with your co-parent as a professional business relationship. You and your co-parent are working to launch a happy and healthy child out into the world. This is no easy task on its own but can be made that much harder if you are struggling against your teammate.

What does shifting to a business communication mindset mean?  

In this era of rapid responses to tweets, posts, or just plain texts, we can forget the benefit and necessity of taking a beat to reread our words and consider how they may be viewed. We know to do this when we are at work, but oftentimes we forget to give ourselves this benefit in our personal relationships.  

How do you implement this cool down in your responses to your co-parent? 

Text messages, by their very nature, are meant to be quick and informal. They are the short-cut to a phone call or email and oftentimes this results in responses being treated the same. This means you should move away from text messaging as the primary information source with your co-parent. Text messages should be left for emergency issues.   

If you are not already on a co-parenting platform such as Talking Parents or Our Family Wizard, then you should propose this to your co-parent. These platforms are similar to emails and even have phone applications to make it quick and easy to access messages. These platforms also let you know when the other side reads your message to them. This will take away the concern about them not reviewing things and/or the allegation that they were unaware of something. Additionally, by using a specific application or platform for communicating solely with your co-parent, this will help remind you to make that mindset shift for this form of professional communication. 

Now that you have a method of communication that helps remind you of the mindset shift, you will need to actively implement the cool down in your responses. This can be achieved by some simple reminders:

  1. You do NOT need to respond immediately. Any and all emergency communication should be via text or phone. Those are the only types of communication with your co-parent that require an immediate response. All non-emergency communication should be fine to be responded to within 24 to 48 hours.  
  2. Drafts are your friends. Open up a note on your phone or a word document on your computer and draft your initial knee jerk response, then walk away. After some time has passed, go back to that initial response and see if you would be okay sending the drafted response if it were a work email or an email sent to all of the PTA.  
  3. Lastly, before you send your response make sure it hits the “BIFF”® Response technique and edit it accordingly
    1. Brief
    2. Informative
    3. Friendly
    4. Factual

Communication in this format takes time and practice to learn. Be patient with yourself as you work on developing this new skill set. The resources provided below may help you with co-parenting. If you would like to discuss these techniques and any co-parenting issues you may be having with your co-parent, please give Moore Law for Children a call.