10 steps to communicating with your ex

10 steps to communicating with your ex to make sure your children are happy. Girl getting into a car waving

Step 1

Try to reach an understanding about what parenting decisions you need to consult the other parent on.

Step 2

Agree how you are going to share information and parenting issues eg in person, on the phone, text or email. You may use all of these depending on what needs to be shared.

Step 3

Share positive information first, then try to solve problems. This is especially useful if you are meeting face to face or talking on the phone. Agree on a time and place to talk. Even 5 minutes of positive communication on a regular basis may help you deal with bigger issues when they arise. 

Step 4

Text is quick and convenient but the sentiment can easily be misinterpreted. Acknowledge that people have different ways of communicating – some may prefer wordier messages, others prefer to get to the point. 

Step 5

Try not to be defensive; if the other parent accuses you of something don’t get into tit-for-tat.  Explain how that makes you feel and focus on asking them how they would like things to be done differently in the future.  Conversely, think about what you need to know to feel better about how your children are being taken care of. 

Step 4

Keep things neutral; don’t bring blame into the conversation, no-one wins.  Keep focused on the purpose for the communication and keep the past in the past. Remove your personal feelings and communicate with the other parent on a more business-like level for the sake of your children.

Step 5

Don’t talk about issues in front of the children. If you need to meet up consider where the best place for that may be eg a library, coffee shop. When talking on the phone be careful that children aren’t around. Even if they are not in the same room they can overhear a raised voice and pick up on negative emotions.

Step 6

Don’t make presumptions.  If the other parent hasn’t replied to your text or email, don’t jump to conclusions.  It may be they need to take time to think about it to respond in an appropriate manner.  You may prefer to agree together that emails about parenting decisions need to be responded to in a given time period for the avoidance of increasing hostility.

Step 7

Don’t let issues build up. It is better to communicate regularly. Where direct communication isn’t possible, you can use a ‘contact’ book to share information, such as your children’s achievements, activities or problems.

Step 8

Communication is a two-way process; listening is just as important as talking. If you sense the other parent needs to get something off their chest, give them the space to do it and then respond calmly.

Step 9

Always try to see the bigger picture; improving your communication will improve your co-parenting which will only bring positive benefits to your children.

Step 10

If communication is challenging, you may wish to seek help from a Family Mediator.  They will help you to deal with your communication issues and help you to find a solution that is acceptable to both parents.