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How can you avoid toxic communication with your co-parent?

Toxic relationships don't necessarily become less toxic when a couple parts ways. In fact, sometimes, the stress and conflict of divorce can bring even more animosity between people. However, when you have children, you have to find a way to communicate civilly for their well-beieng, if not for your own mental health.

So how do you maintain the necessary communication about your children without it degenerating into a rehash of old grievances and the beginning of new ones? If parents can't do that, their kids will ultimately suffer the most.

Texting and emailing make it easier for co-parents to communicate without having to speak to one another. However, these messages can easily be misinterpreted. It's also easier to say something that's less than kind via text or email than over the phone or in person.

Maintaining communication about your children is essential. However, that doesn't mean that you have to respond to every message from your ex. It's easy to type a quick response and hit "send" to a real or perceived insult. Before you do, take a moment to consider these questions:

Is the message about your kids?

If it's not about your kids and is simply dredging up old issues that don't need to be discussed, you don't have to respond.

Is there a question?

Look past whatever insults, passive-aggressive language or four-letter words the message may contain to determine whether your ex is asking for information you need to provide. If so, answer the question, but don't engage in the negativity. Keep your response civil, even if the message you're responding to isn't.

If you find yourself inundated with messages every day from your ex that are only serving to keep your conflict alive rather than deal with the needs of your kids, or if you find that you just can't communicate directly with your ex without opening old wounds yourself, you may be better off using one of the co-parenting apps available to help parents stay informed about their children's activities, grades, medical issues and other matters without directly talking to one another.

Putting a little "distance" between you may help you both cool off and eventually find an amicable way to communicate about your kids' needs. Your Rhode Island family law attorney can likely recommend an app that will work for you and provide guidance to help you become a better co-parent.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Walking Away From A Message," accessed Dec. 15, 2017

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