Divorce is one of the most challenging things a family can go through, and communicating with your ex afterward can seem daunting. If you share children, you and your ex-spouse, now co-parents, will communicate regularly for years, if not decades. Successfully communicating is essential to creating a healthy environment for your children. Good communication with your ex-spouse takes hard work, understanding, and a commitment to putting the children’s needs first.
Why Good Communication is Important
Parenting can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Co-parenting after a divorce is rarely easy. Establishing a parenting plan and good communication is the key to successful co-parenting. Doing so will help ensure that your children can have a healthy relationship with both of their parents. When divorced parents have a cooperative relationship, children feel more secure and are mentally and emotionally healthier.
Tips for Successful Communication
Set Some Ground Rules
Parents often find that having regular communication with their former partner helps reduce the chance of misunderstandings. When parents are not on good terms, communication can quickly become hostile. Setting ground rules can help avoid arguments and allow you to focus on what is important—your children. Some standard ground rules include:
- No arguing in front of your children.
- Don’t speak negatively about your ex in front of your children.
- Limit communication to specific topics concerning your children.
- Avoid communication when you are especially emotional or irritable.
Children benefit from consistent routines and expectations. A good co-parenting plan establishes similar rules, discipline, and rewards between households. Boundaries give your child a sense of security by letting them know what to expect. Similar schedules and bedtime routines will help your child adjust to traveling between two households. Boundaries can be established for all aspects of parenting, including discipline. When each parent has the same disciplinary standards, it can help avoid conflict between the parent and child.
Maintain a Civil Relationship
Establishing and maintaining a civil relationship with your ex may seem impossible following a divorce. Even if you cannot be friends, you can still be civil with each other. Focus on your children, and do what is best for them. Remember, you are there for your children and their best interests. Focusing on what is best for your children will make maintaining a civil relationship with your former spouse easier.
Deal With Difficult Emotions
It is normal to experience a range of emotions after a divorce, including sadness, anger, and frustration. While it is important to process these emotions, it is also essential to keep them under control, so they do not affect your parenting. Never put your children in the middle of your conflicts with your ex-spouse. Here are some tips on how to deal with difficult emotions:
- Exercise. Regular exercise, especially in a group setting, is a great way to deal with difficult emotions. It can help relieve tension and make you feel better.
- Talk to someone. A trusted friend or family member can often provide helpful advice or perspective on your situation.
- Consider working with a therapist. If you find it difficult to talk to family or friends, consider using a therapist specializing in divorce.
- Write in a journal. Putting your feelings down on paper can be a great way to deal with divorce-related emotions.
Practice Effective Communication Methods
In any relationship, there are effective ways to enhance communication. Make communicating with your ex-spouse easier by following these tips:
Establish a Business-Like Tone. Speak with your ex-spouse as you would with a work colleague. Use a cordial, respectful, and neutral tone. Relax and speak slowly.
Make Requests. Instead of making statements that sound like demands, try framing as much as possible as a request. A request might begin with, “Would you be willing to…?’ or “Can we try…?”
Listen. Good communication starts with active listening. Even if you disagree with your ex-spouse, you should be able to convey that you understand their point of view. Listening doesn’t signal approval, but it does signal respect.
Keep Your Conversations Focused. Make sure your conversations remain focused on your children’s needs, not your disagreements with each other.
Good Communication Helps Children Adjust
Divorce is confusing for children and often creates a lot of questions. Communicating with your ex-spouse is essential for a successful transition for everyone. Children often need a lot of time to process what is happening, and interrupting their thoughts or pushing for information too soon can overwhelm them. Therapists specializing in divorce can help with effective communication between parents and children. Kids in the Middle is a St. Louis non-profit organization devoted to helping families successfully transition after divorce.
Successfully communicating with your former spouse can be challenging, particularly when you are not on good terms. The emotional and psychological impact on children of divorce is well documented. The adverse effects of divorce on children are less severe when their parents maintain a positive relationship after their divorce. Some parents can remain friends and work together for their children’s benefit; others require more effort to keep communication positive and focused. An experienced family therapist or divorce support group can help you navigate your separation and divorce.
An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help
The attorneys at Lecour Family Law can help you navigate complex and stressful family legal issues, including divorce, child custody, and child support. Call us today at 636-685-0440 to schedule a consultation. We pride ourselves on offering family legal services tailored to your specific needs.
Lecour Family Law is located at 1270 Jungermann Road in St. Peters, Missouri. We serve clients throughout St. Charles, O’Fallon, Troy, Warrenton, and St. Louis.