If you’re raising your children across two different households post divorce or legal separation, you know that consistent communication between you and your co-parent is incredibly important. When that communication breaks down, whether it’s because of a lack of or refusal to text each other, your children will be the ones who suffer the consequences. Once your child becomes the messenger because one parent dropped the ball, conflicts arise and simple events turn chaotic and messy. When co-parents no longer see the true purpose of communication between themselves as a means of raising healthy and happy children, the entire family feels the strain.
The Importance of Healthy Co-Parenting Text Messages
Even the most dedicated people can experience breakdowns in parenting communication. Frustration, disappointment, and stress from both the past and present can easily creep into conversations and set a negative tone that carries on for days, weeks, or even months onward. If it’s something you’re noticing, it’s likely your children are feeling the effects, too. This is why it’s so important to be able to recognize and break a cycle of unproductive communication between you, and to take steps to prevent adding fuel to the fire of unnecessary disputes.
In our modern age, even a quick text message can convey anger or contention and devolve into an argument, but we lean on it because of the convenience it provides. Since co-parenting text messages often offers the most potential for conflict between two exes, here are our tips on how to handle those intense texts from your ex.
1. Set a Civil Tone
Messaging between you and your ex does not have to be warm, so sometimes cold politeness is the best you can hope for. Even if your messages are distant, you still need to keep it respectful for the sake of the co-parenting relationship, your child’s overall experience, and your own mental health.
When you see your non-custodial parent text you during a tough time in your communications, maintain that baseline of civility you personally adhere to before you respond. Avoid swearing or adding insults into your messages as this will only distract from your children and their needs and can lead to larger conflicts that devolve into legal or custodial battles, if serious enough.
2. Don’t Respond to Everything
During a time of conflict with your co-parent, you may find yourself receiving a message from them that doesn’t have anything to do with your children. For the sake of your relationship with them and the peaceful environment you’re trying to maintain for your kids, it’s best to disengage when your ex brings up things from the past that have nothing to do with your situation today. When you continually refuse to respond to these sorts of messages, they will eventually stop sending them.
While co-parenting text messages should remain a somewhat disconnected space, keep in mind that you will need to be honest about your feelings when this sort of thing happens. If a contentious point is because of your own negative behavior as a co-parent, your emotions shouldn’t be used as a way to dismiss that point if your ex has a valid position or concern.
3. Consider the Question
If you’re not sure whether you should respond to a co-parent’s message, consider whether that message even contains a relevant question to begin with. Responding to a message with conflict potential that doesn’t even have a request for information may not be worth it. When it comes to messages with valid questions but inappropriate language, you’ll need to use your own judgment.
Ignoring the language to provide the answer alone can be difficult, and sometimes, not engaging with messages that are designed to antagonize you can defuse a situation before it starts. At the very least, if you feel you have enough self-control to respond with only the requested details, your formal, professional reply will help you avoid becoming provoked by your ex’s negativity. If you are unable to resist the urge to match your non custodial parent’s texts’ negativity, your best bet is to ignore the message until your ex rephrases the question in a civil manner.
When you’re working to maintain a co-parenting relationship that has a pattern of conflict, texting can be a tough platform and even provide opportunities to escalate the disagreements and arguments. By taking the time to evaluate a text, think about what it means, and review your reply before you press send, you can help keep co-parenting communication on the right level. If you’re looking for guidance on co-parenting and family law, contact the team at the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer to get someone who has your back today.