In many ways parenting living separately is similar to parenting living together. The ability of parents to communicate effectively is a vital element for successful parenting. This is especially important for parents who live in separate households.
- Direct, open communication between parents regarding the children is best.
- Be respectful, courteous and responsive.
- Focus on the present and future, not the past.
- Address one issue at a time.
- Make requests not demands.
- Avoid becoming polarized over who is “right” and who is “wrong”.
- Listen to, acknowledge and try to understand the other person’s perspective.
- If you have a concern, issue or decision to discuss, call the other parent. If the parent is not able to talk at that time, schedule a specific time to talk.
- If either parent leaves a voice mail message or sends an e-mail to the other, they need to clearly state the issue that needs to be discussed and the time frame within which a response is needed.
- When one parent makes a request of the other, the other parent should make every effort to accommodate that request. If you do, you are more likely to get a favorable response when you make a request.
- It is important to acknowledge each other for listening to one’s needs and concerns and for responding favorably to any requests. Be polite and thankful.
- If the children raise an issue with one parent about the other, encouraged them to talk directly with that other parent. When appropriate, keep each other informed of any such issues. Be careful not to become emotionally involved.
- If the children make statements that raise concerns for either parent, address this with the other parent, being careful not to respond as though what the children said is accurate.
- Keep each other informed about significant events in one’s life (job, relationship, house, etc.). It is reassuring to children to know that their parents are communicating with each other.
By Heather Resneder, MA, MFT-A
KidWorks is an eight-week support program for children and teens of divorce. For more information, call 972-960-9981.