AFCC Co-parenting Communication Guide
Talking together about your children's needs after divorce can sometimes be the most difficult part of the process. If you want to make a best effort to support parenting in each home, compromise is often necessary. The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts offers a Co-Parent Communication Guide that focus on keeping children out of the middle, reducing conflict and providing basic tools for sharing information.
Information should be Accurate, Complete and Timely, A.C.T. This is especially critical with young children who should not be made responsible for sharing information about medication, school, travel plans, appointments or any other issues that would normally be the responsibility of the adults that care for them.
Children need ample time to adjust to the changes brought on by the divorce which means parents must find ways to continue to coordinate care. If parents do not share sufficient information then children are caught in the middle without being equipped to manage the different aspects of their lives.
It takes time to learn how to communicate with respect and cooperation. Here are some basic guidelines to stay on track:
- Be brief and to the point
- Stick to a single subject
- Be positive
- Keep it simple
- Provide necessary information
- Don't overreact
- Don't blame, accuse or criticize
- Don't make demands
- Don't use profanity
- Keep communication courteous and cooperative
- Provide reasonable deadlines
- Use respectful language
Email can be an effective means of communicating if you follow the basic guidelines and remember that the messages you send are a record of both information and how you conduct yourself.
Texting and telephone calls can be helpful once you have worked out any residual anger, loss or conflict. If you are still engaged in litigation or find yourself reliving negative experiences attached to the divorce then it is best to limit contact that might devolve into an argument.
Exchanging weekly transition notes is another way to provide information that will follow the child between homes. With younger children it can help to have a journal that goes back and forth between homes.
The AFCC Co-Parent Guide provides detailed information about ways of communicating that will support your child and help you create a positive parenting relationship.
In cases where conflict is still extremely high a written co parenting plan that includes a schedule as well as specific details that cover a full range of issues is the better way to approach parenting until litigation is over and conflict is reduced.