Opinions

Opinions. They abound in co-parent relationships, but are often a huge cause of conflict. Although you have a right to share your opinions about your child’s welfare (and only about your child’s welfare), it’s best to ask yourself WHAT you hope to achieve by sharing an opinion. If you just want to be right or scold the other parent for doing something wrong, then DON’T share. It won’t have any productive value. However, if you truly hope that the other parent might hear your opinion and do something differently, then be very careful about HOW you share it. You might be upset that Johnny told you he doesn’t brush his teeth while at his mom’s house. You could send mom an email and say, “Johnny told me he doesn’t brush his teeth while with you, so I’ve attached a link to the ADA’s web site explaining what happens to a child who doesn’t brush his teeth. Furthermore, I can’t believe you neglect our child in this way. Please make sure Johnny brushes his teeth twice daily as the ADA recommends.” Chances are, mom will become a rebellious child for having been treated like a child by her ex and will be determined to make sure she feeds Johnny lots of candy while at her house from now on. But If you REALLY want things to be different, an opinion needs to be shared respectfully, giving the other parent the benefit of the doubt (like you might when your child reports something about his teacher, for example). A better way to share would be, “Johnny told me he doesn’t brush his teeth while at your house. I doubt that is true, but just thought I’d mention it in case he’s just trying to manipulate us.” PERIOD. An unrealistic hope is that mom will apologize and tell you she is a terrible parent for not making sure Johnny gets his teeth brushed. The most realistic hope we can have is that mom will feel a little stung by having been revealed by Johnny and MAYBE she will think better of her bad habit and change her ways (although she will never tell you that, so you will never know it). Analyze your reason for sharing an opinion. If it is true and good, then share respectfully. If you can’t do that then I don’t believe you really want things to change.

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