One of the most common mistakes co-parents in conflict make is using their communication with one another to document and build a case for the future. For example, “Dear John, you obviously don’t care about the children because you refused to switch weekends with me.” Or, “Dear Jane, I noticed that you did not attend Sally’s soccer game like you promised. Sally was very disappointed.” If you are completely cooperative, these admonishments might be effective, but cooperative co-parents (by definition) usually don’t have to say these kinds of things. If you feel you do, chances are, they DON’T WORK! It’s why we recommend a weekly, structured email protocol to keep communication minimized, productive and unemotional.
Co-parents should feel free to share opinions with the other parent but should do so in a respectful way without accusation or blame. Then let it go. The only recourse you have is to file a contempt, but that is not always the best choice for the children in the long run. And it will cost you thousands. Instead, save your defenses, emotional rants, and blame-placing in an electronic journal for your and your attorney’s eyes only. Then you’ll have the “truth” if you ever need it someday. If you have a co-parent who is constantly sharing his/her opinions, emotional rants and criticisms, try memorizing and using the following million-dollar phrases:
- In response to an opinion statement:
- I appreciate your opinion. I’ll certainly take that into consideration.
- In response to a request to be flexible or change the court-ordered schedule:
- Thank you for asking, but we seem to get into conflict when we try to be flexible. I’m more comfortable sticking with the parenting plan.
- In response to non-emergency or non-time-sensitive communication from the other parent outside of the protocol:
- Thank you. I’ve received your communication and will respond to it in our next weekly email stream.