Working with an ex who refuses to collaborate

Remember when you were in middle school or high school and you got put in a group for a group project? It was the worst thing ever because there were always the same personalities in the group: the leader, the follower, the fighter, the one who wanted the good grade, and the one who didn't care. At least when I was in a group, there were always some combination close to this. I've always fallen into either the leader category or the one who wanted the good grade. This meant, I've always dealt with the fighter.

Many times, co-parenting feels exactly the same as a group project in high school.

Here's the cycle:

  1. Someone has a vision or an idea meant to make the best of the project (in this case, it's raising happy, healthy, successful adults).
  2. That vision is communicated to ensure all participants are on the same page.
  3. The fighter either responds with anger, frustration, bitterness or doesn't respond at all.
  4. The one with the vision adjusts communication, the vision, and works to see what he/she can do to make it happen for the kids.
  5. This is met with either more arguments, no communication, or the fighter takes full credit when it goes well.
  6. Original participant hangs head in exhaustion before the next vision/project comes.

Does this ever happen to you? It certainly happens to many of the clients I've worked with and has happened to me - for 11 years (and counting). 

It's frustrating. It's hard to understand. It's sad to watch and to be a part of. 

But you have a vision and you know it's the right thing for the kids, now what? Here are my tips for working with the co-parent who refuses to work with you. 

  • Make sure you're not missing something. When I talked about the different personalities in a group project, I almost called the leader an 'overachieving know-it-all'. That's me. I know, I know. It's annoying. I get annoyed with it, too, but God has created me Type A and I've learned to embrace the positives. That means that though I have many visions for my kids and what is the best for them, sometimes I can't see the forest through the trees and I am (gasp) wrong. Or I miss something in my vision. This has taken practice, but if I get an argument about the vision, I do go back to see whether or not I've missed something. I put my ideas aside and try to see things from my co-parent's point of view. There's more than one view from the parenting ledge and all views matter.
  • Decide what requires your co-parent and, subsequently, what's most important. Sometimes my visions are small: starting a new tradition with my daughter to cook a meal from another country every Sunday we're together. Sometimes my visions are bigger: knowing they need a new orthodontist because the one originally chosen has decided to make poor decisions with their patient's mouths. One of those visions requires the collaboration of my co-parent, one does not. When it requires my co-parent's collaboration, I need to decide what's most important. Is it worth the fight to find a new orthodontist knowing I'll be fighting the whole way? What's most important here? In other words, pick your battles. 
  • Ask yourself what YOU can do to make it easier. Actual words used by people I know and people I've worked with: "Why not just work together?" "Why does it always have to be so hard?" "Why does every single thing have to be an argument?" "Why?" You get the idea. You've probably said something similar, too. After asking something like this, there is usually a quick (or sometimes not-so-quick) vent about what's wrong with the other person and why they make things so difficult all the time. Let's switch that up, though. What about you? What about me? What can we do to make it easier? Is there anything we can do? Who cares if that means we are always going more than halfway. Who cares if we work harder to make things happen? No one is keeping score and remember, we've already decided what's most important - the goal of raising happy, healthy, successful adults. 
  • Move on to do the best you can without breaking the rules and celebrate the wins. I couldn't change the orthodontist without agreement from my co-parent, so I had to keep moving forward to make that happen. After a mediation session and multiple emails, we've narrowed it down. Should it have been easier? Without question. Was it? Not even a little, but there are some wins. When you focus on what went well instead of all the ways it didn't go well, it's a heck of a lot easier to move on. Were there frustrating parts? Goodness yes, but they're over and we're moving onto a new orthodontist smiling instead of angry because of how difficult it was. 

How are you handling the difficult collaboration? When you work with someone who refuses to communicate altogether, there's a whole other way of moving on without breaking rules. I go through the step-by-step ways of handling this with someone who refuses to collaborate or with someone who refuses to collaborate. 

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The co-parenting course is 10 lessons designed to take you from managing your own emotions so you can put everything you have into co-parenting through what happens if co-parenting just isn't in the cards for you and your ex. 

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Five vital traits for parenting post-divorce

It may be something that we, as parents, don’t want to think about but with 40% of all marriage ending in divorce it’s by no means uncommon.

With all parents wanting to do the right thing for their children and with research now showing that their behaviour after a divorce plays a far greater role in their children’s wellbeing – both short and long-term – than the divorce itself, the need to learn how to co-parent post-separation cannot be understated.

For nearly a decade, I have worked with individuals who have been in the process of divorcing their spouses. Like most parents, they were happy to discuss their children and, importantly, the traits they had learned that had enabled them to maintain a cordial relationship with their former spouses in order to work together as a team and provide their children with the love, affection, boundaries, support and anything else they needed.

Having also become a parent myself just over two years ago, I’ve become more and more interested in these tips and began to pay closer attention to what had, due to may changing circumstances, become vitally important. My job serves as a constant reminder of the fact that these are lessons I may one day need to put into practice and I remain mindful of the lessons I’ve learnt, and continue to learn, as a result.

With this, and the fact that I’m certain that this information will be of use to divorced or separated parents, in mind, I’ve compiled a list of what are, in my opinion, the five most important traits parents must develop and nurture to be the team they need to be following them having split up:

1. Compromise

Like it or not, you’re not always going to be able to have things your own way so being able to give, as well as take, is going to be absolutely vital.

By showing that you’re capable of compromise (allowing your children to stay with their non-resident parent when they have a relative staying, for example) you’re much more likely to receive it in return. It’ll also foster a great deal of goodwill.

2. Empathy

The importance of being able to put yourself in your former spouse’s shoes cannot be understated. Do this and you’ll find that compromise comes much more easily and you’ll also find communicating with your former spouse becomes significantly less troublesome too.

3. Forgiveness

With separation and divorce often mired in acrimony, this one can be difficult. That said, it’s also vital.

If you don’t allow yourself to forgive your spouse’s prior – and potentially future – transgressions, you’ll never be able to work together as a team and, as this is something you’re going to need to do for the good of your children, remember why you’re doing it and you’ll have all the motivation you’ll need.

4. Restraint

As a child of divorce whose parents often disagreed and would often openly criticise the other’s decision in my presence, I have first-hand experience of how a lack of restraint can harm a child.

Yes, you and your former spouse will still disagree on certain things but, if you feel anger bubbling up inside you, be mindful of who’s present and try counting to ten or focusing on your breathing.

Remember, whilst you’re not going to agree on anything, your children still need to see their mum and dad as a team.

5. Creativity

You’re going to face challenges. Your children’s arrangements will change, for example, and if they’re struggling to adapt, it’s sometimes necessary to create unique solutions instead of merely carrying on in the hope that they eventually acclimatise.

A great example of this is ‘bird’s nest parenting’ where parents move in an out of the matrimonial home when it’s their turn to care for the children in order to maintain a sense of normality and consistency. Others have continued to take holidays as a family; some enjoy days out as a group. Think about what would benefit your children and give it a try, creativity is all about ideas, after all.

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Jay Williams works as a case manager at Quickie Divorce, one of the largest providers of uncontested divorce solutions in England and Wales. He lives in Cardiff, Wales, with his wife and two-year-old daughter Eirys.

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When Co-Parenting Isn't an Option

We're here because we know co-parenting is what's best for our kids. We want to be able to work with our ex's in order to make things better for our kids, but for a lot of the people reading this - it's not an option. Whether your co-parent refuses to work with you or even communicate with you or your co-parent isn't involved, sometimes co-parenting isn't an option. 

Let's talk about what your options are. 

  1. Parallel Parenting may include some communication, but each parent sets up their own set of rules and expectations on their own time. 
  2. Single Parenting is for those parents who don't have a partner, or a partner who is barely there. You are making all of the decisions and following through on them, but there is very little to no help from your co-parent. 

When you're parallel parenting, some of the difficulties include your children having trouble transitioning when expectations are vastly different. In parallel parenting situations, some of the extra-curricular activities are missed because parent's don't communicate on what is happening. There is no back-up when giving your children consequences in a parallel parenting situation, all consequences happen at your house. The positive is that because it limits communication quite a bit, it helps prevent arguments that would have otherwise been there. 

In Single parenting, kids struggle the most emotionally. Research shows that kids who grow up in 1 parent households are less likely to graduate from high school, go onto advanced education, and are more likely to use drugs and/or alcohol. That doesn't mean it happens in every case, but it is a risk. Though having 2 parents, 2 different personalities is difficult for the parents, kids fare better. You may be in a situation that you cannot control, though, and single parenting isn't a choice. When that's the case, make sure you are taking care of yourself, still making time for fun with your children, and giving them as many people to look up to as possible (e.g. coaches, Big Brother/Sister, teachers, etc.). 

The biggest tip is to accept the situation for what it is. Co-Parenting isn't an option for some, but that doesn't mean it never will be. Keep doing what you can to keep things positive and re-evaluating the relationship you may have. 

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Co-Parenting Battles

My stepdaughter consistently comes home in the exact same clothes we sent her to her Mom's in (down to the underwear) regardless of the weather. We live in an area where there are many ups and downs. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, we sent her to her Mom's and it was in the 80's. The day we got her back, it was in the 50's. She was still dressed in shorts and sandals, no sweater, no coat. 

My biological daughters had Labor Day weekend with their Dad and Stepmom this year. They decided to go out of town to a place my daughter's hate going. They've communicated this to their Dad and Stepmom and ask to stay home with me, but are told no. 

Within the groups I've worked with, I've heard stories of their kids not having chores at their co-parent's house, being allowed to stay up as late as they want, are seeing things that are not age-appropriate among many, many others. The short story here is that every co-parent will be faced with battles. The question is:

Which hill are you ready to die on?

Hopefully, just asking the question makes you pause and consider what battles are worth it and which aren't. If you've chosen every battle, I would imagine there is a lot of anxiety every time you hear from your co-parent wondering what the next battle will be. I would also predict that your co-parent doesn't communicate with you as often as you'd like (because everything becomes a battle). If you select your battles, how do you decide what's important and what's not? Is it based on your mood? What's going on in your life? How important it seems to your kids? How likely your co-parent is to listen to your side? 

Let me help and give you some ideas to help decide which battles are worth it and which aren't. 

  • Will this matter in the long run? You've heard of the 10/10/10 rule, right? Will this matter in 10 hours? 10 days? 10 years? Spend time on the things that matter rather than the ones that don't. 
  • Why would I choose this battle? If the answer is "revenge" or "karma" or to "win", know that this is not about you and not about your kids. If your answer is that it makes a difference in your kid's lives, then make sure that stays your focus. 
  • If this were your friend's kids, would you tell them this is worth the battle? Sometimes, you need to take a step back and see this situation from a completely different perspective. How many times have you been with a friend or a sibling that's venting about their children or their co-parent and you've said, "It isn't worth your time". The same applies here, what would your friends say to you if they were being completely honest? 

Is it fair for my stepdaughter to have to tell both her Mom and her Dad that she's cold when it could have been prevented? Not really. Do my kid's feel unheard when they want to stay home instead of going to a place they loathe? Yes, they do. Rather than choosing this as a battle, though, I've learned that offering suggestions calmly and positively makes our kid's thoughts known from another source. I also know that I can't control the outcome. 

The moral of this post is that there will always be battles available, but that I'm hoping none of you want to spend the rest of your children's adolescence fighting every single battle there is. There are many more important things to focus on, like your children's adolescence and how quickly they grow. 

The days are long, the years are short. Choose your battles wisely. Comment below with battles you've let go of so we can all learn from each other. 

 Photo by  Wilfried Santer  on  Unsplash

When you're ready to face that battle, communicate it in the best way possible. You can learn how to do that in the Co-Parenting Course. Click the button to learn more. 

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4 Pillars of Positive Co-Parenting

Let me start by saying positive co-parenting is all about you doing your part to positively co-parent. That doesn’t mean your co-parent will be doing the same thing. You are only in control of you.

There’s a lot that gets in the way of positive co-parenting, which is why I’d like to make it simple. Positive co-parenting on your end is possible simply by paying attention to these 4 pillars:

  1. Self Care. I realize that this doesn’t seem like an important topic when it comes to positive co-parenting, but hear me out here. If you are getting nastygrams from your co-parent, or your co-parent isn’t communicating with you at all, it’s frustrating! If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s a lot harder to deal with the frustrations that come. You’re more prone to lashing out in anger if you aren’t practicing self-care.

  2. Don’t Engage. You may want to get revenge. You may want to put your co-parent in their place. You may want to show them just how awful they are. When you choose to engage, you choose to end any chance at positive co-parenting. Again, you can’t control your co-parent, but you can control you and if YOU’RE working towards positive co-parenting, it gets you farther than if both of you are engaging. Learning to pick your battles and then communicating positively will get you farther than if both of you are communicating negatively.

  3. Flexibility and Boundaries. It doesn’t feel like these 2 go together, but let me explain. Even if you have the most robust court order there is, it will not cover every single situation. In all my years of reviewing court orders, I have yet to see one cover every possible situation. Even if the court order covers a situation, it may not be in your childrens best interest and flexibility is required. Being flexible is important for your children because their lives are not confined to a court order. With that said, creating boundaries can help ensure you and your children aren’t taken advantage of. Just be careful of boundaries just to make things harder for your co-parent.

  4. Accept differences. Mom’s house will be different from Dad’s house. Even in the best situation, Mom and Dad will handle things differently. In fact, this was the case when you two were together. Each of you handled things differently there and you’ll continue to handle things differently. In many cases, this is ok! Accept that your co-parent won’t do the same things you will and it’ll stress you out much less when you hear about it.

These are the 4 pillars I’ve come up with in working with hundreds of co-parents over the years. If you focus on these, it can reduce your stress, increase your confidence in your co-parenting, and reduce arguments.

Co-Parenting is hard. There's no getting around it. Sometimes its hard to know what you should do. The Co-Parenting After Divorce course can help you with that. It talks about each of these 4 pillars in more detail. Click on the button below to learn more. 

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How to decide what is in the "best interest of the kids"

The term “best interest of the kids” is thrown around a lot. The decisions you make are decisions you believe are in the best interests of your kids. Generally speaking, your co-parent believes they have the best interests of the kids in mind, too. The Courts will tell you that they are working in the kid’s best interests, too. So what exactly are the kid’s best interests?

In my experience, there’s more than one right answer to find what’s in the best interest of the kids. When negotiating to figure out what’s in your kid’s best interests, here are some tips:

  1. Think long term. Will this decision affect them for many years to come? If so, how do you imagine it will?

  2. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you be ok with the decision being made? How would you be affected by it?

  3. Kids need both of their parents, will this decision allow for both parents to be involved? (I understand that sometimes parents live in different states and that some parents simply aren’t involved in their children’s lives. Outside of those cases, when you have 2 parents who want to be involved in their kids lives, this is an important question.)

  4. Are you negotiating for your solution because it’s what’s best for the kids or because it’s what’s best for you? I realize this is a harsh question, but so many parents are worried about losing “their” time or “their” place that they don’t consider the big picture. While it is time you have with your children, please know that it's the children's time and it's not only normal, but healthy for them to want to be flexible. 

  5. Are your kids being negotiated as if they were property or as if they are real human beings? As my kids have gotten older, they’re able to say that when it comes to one-time changes in the schedule, they can feel like property when they hear negotiations. Most recently, my oldest daughter planned for a group project in school to be completed over her Dad’s weekend. She asked first to make sure it would work for him, he confirmed (more than once). Her Stepmom made plans taking them out of town a couple of days before the weekend and the group project plans couldn’t be changed. This meant my oldest daughter would either have to stay with me for the weekend, would have to fail the project and go with her Dad and Stepmom, or Dad and Stepmom would have to rearrange their plans so they could accommodate the school project. Dad and Stepmom fought to make my daughter go with them telling her that they didn’t want to miss out on “their time” with them and that failing the project wouldn’t be so bad. Dad and Stepmom used it as a negotiation tool to take vacation during a time that’s outside the court order. They told my daughter this. She felt like a piece of property. I would have, too. In the end, she stayed with me and I was willing to ensure that this happened regardless of whether or not they agreed. Their vacation? Co-parenting requires flexibility and I’m always happy to come up with solutions that work for everyone.

  6. Your child’s adolescence is a fraction of their life. The way you handle it will set the stage for your relationship with them later in life. Trust me on this. I’ve interviewed adult children of divorce. I have almost adult children of divorce. The flexibility you show, your willingness to work with your co-parent, and how often you put your kid’s needs ahead of “your time” is something they notice. It will impact your relationship with them as adults.

How do you decide what’s in the best interest of your kids? Comment below and let everyone know.

When you decide on what your children need, it's time to communicate that effectively. Get all the tips and tools to do that in the co-parenting after divorce videos. Click on the button below to learn more. 

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What I’ve learned on my personal co-parenting journey

I’ve been co-parenting with my ex for 10 years now. Actually, that’s not true, we were parallel parenting for many years only to move to co-parenting a few years ago. I’ve been a stepmom for 3 years now and while this is a controversial topic - I passionately believe that stepparents play a part in the co-parenting role either directly or indirectly (I’ll get to that later). In these years, I’ve learned A LOT and it’s part of the reason I do what I do. My counseling journey naturally took me to working with divorced families in part because of what I’ve learned personally.

When we started co-parenting, it was easy. We didn’t have a contentious divorce, in fact we didn’t use lawyers. I wrote our parenting plan, which is still in place today (though we’ve added to it as our girls have gotten older). We talked or texted almost daily to update each other on the kids and there were no hard feelings, until outside influences started to change my ex’s behavior. When he would vent to his friends (as he should), they began telling him to get back at me for asking for the divorce, take me to court for child support*, follow me or have me followed to see if I was dating anyone, and to take the kids during his time (which wasn’t what we had agreed on prior to our written parenting plan). That’s when co-parenting stopped and parallel parenting started. Every message I sent was met with hate. I’ve seen the messages you’ve received and I’ve received them, too. The first lesson I learned was that friends and family can have a bigger impact on co-parenting that you realize, but only if you let it.

My ex started dating earlier than I did, and that was fine. He didn’t bring the people he dated around our daughters until he had seen them for awhile, but what I learned when he did bring them around our daughters is that there is a sting when another woman comes into their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I want my daughters to have a healthy, happy relationship with their stepmom, but that doesn’t make it easier to know that they have a mom-type-figure when they’re not with me. That’s nature. Moms can be very territorial, the ducks and geese protecting their babies at the park every spring shows you that. The next lesson I learned is to be confident in the relationship my daughters and I have. They’re better for it and I am, too.

Finally, as we’ve transitioned from parallel parenting back to co-parenting, I believe it has something to do with my letting go of many (MANY) things that have been done to exclude me in my children’s lives. For example, my co-parent would take the kids to the doctor without telling me when they were going or even who they were going to. He even scheduled and took my daughter for mouth surgery without telling me. It wasn’t until my daughters told me this that I learned of it. You can imagine the anger I felt. Not only was he in contempt of our order, but he created a huge gap between him and his own daughters by purposely excluding their other parent. They were so upset over this. I could have taken him to court, according to some lawyers, I could have had some rights removed from him and given the extent, he could have spent time in jail for contempt. What I learned is that when anger guides decisions, the only people who get hurt are the kids. We went to mediation, the mediator spent quite a bit of time yelling at him, we came to an agreement and he still doesn’t follow it to the letter, but it’s better than it was. The people that won in this were the kids.

The journey hasn’t been easy, but as I near the end of a significant portion of it as my kids grow, I realize that their adolescence is such a small portion of their lives, but what we do shapes our relationship with them as they grow. What lessons have you learned as you’ve gone through your co-parenting journey?

I wish I had a video series like the Co-Parenting After Divorce series. I wish I knew I wasn't alone and I wish I had the tips and tools you can have by watching those videos. Click on the button below to learn more. 

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7 Things to Give Up to Positively Co-Parent

You’re all here because you WANT TO work with your co-parent. You want to get things done for your children. You know the kids benefit from both parents being a part of their lives. You also know that this means during your part in co-parenting. What does that mean? It means giving up a few things to ensure co-parenting goes smoothly - at least on your end.

  1. Competition. You need to know that your children don’t love one parent more than another - even if one of those parents has an Xbox.

  2. Being right. You’ve heard the phrase, “you can be happy or you can be right” and in positive co-parenting, that phrase sometimes rings true. Arguments cannot happen over every detail, pick your battles.

  3. Sticking to your Court Order exactly. There’s no perfect Court Order. You can put everything imaginable in it, but there will still be situations in which flexibility matters more than the Court Order.

  4. Big events. Speaking of Court Orders, generally speaking, you and your co-parent are splitting big days. This means that when your child graduates from preschool, they will go home with one of you vs. both of you. Birthdays happen on a different day every year, which means you may have your kids on their special day one year, but not the next.

  5. Control. Co-Parenting means both parents make decisions for their kids - all decisions. You may have the ability to make all the decisions on your own, and they may be good decisions, but it’s not just one parent’s choice.

  6. Pain from the divorce. As long as you are holding onto the anger and hurt that comes from the divorce, it will find it’s way into your co-parenting relationship. Not only does letting go of this pain give you a chance at a better, happier life, but it protects your co-parenting relationship.

  7. Waiting for apologies. Sometimes you need to be ok with the sorry you never get. A lot has happened to get you to this point. Some of you will get an apology, some of you will not. This doesn’t mean closure can’t happen. It just means you need to find closure outside of an apology.

What have you given up in order to be a positive co-parent? What do you need to give up, yet? What’s holding you back? Come and talk about it in the Facebook group or comment below.

Combine this with the tips and tools given to you in the co-parenting after divorce video and you'll be a positive co-parenting master- even if your ex is negative. Click on the button below to learn more. 

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Positive Co-Parenting Rules

I’m a rule follower. Ask my husband. It drives him insane! The truth is that I feel better when I know there are certain rules for me to follow. I don’t believe I’m alone in this, either. When I let go of all the anger that consumed me after my divorce and really committed myself to positive co-parenting, I found that putting together a list of rules for me to follow will help me stay on track - even when the track is filled with potholes (and it really, really is).  To be honest, in creating my list of rules, it actually helped really forgive myself for all the rule-breaking I did in the past, and helped me truly let go of the past since I was working on goals for the future. So, here you go, my list of rules for all you rule-following co-parents out there:

  1. Be honest. We’re a Christian family, so honesty matters in all situations in our house, but you and I both know that honesty doesn’t always come easy. When I say ‘be honest’, I don’t mean use this as an excuse to attack your co-parent because you’re “just being honest”. I mean, own up to the situations in which you weren’t or aren’t the best co-parent, own when you’ve done something wrong, and just be honest.

  2. Be kind. Yep. Just that simple. Even when all I want to do is go on the attack, I’m choosing kindness first. My words matter. They hold a lot of power. Once said, they cannot be unsaid. Be kind.

  3. Keep moving forward. There will always be hiccups along the way, but as long as the general direction is forward - we’re doing ok. All of our kids are going to grow and they’re going to grow up faster than any of us wants. Keep moving forward - focusing on THEM.

  4. Ask. There are so so many times when my kids and I want to make plans outside of the court order. Many times they tell me that “Dad’s just going to say no”, but if I don’t ask, the answer will always be no. We were able to negotiate vacation just a year ago because they asked, as well as changing weekends to align with my step-daughter’s weekends.

  5. Be happy over being right. Oh my goodness, if I had a dollar for every time I swear I was right, but didn’t engage… Do you feel the same way? Hindsight is 20/20, so I can look back and say this, I don’t need validation from anyone when I am right, so arguing in an effort to get that is a waste of time. As long as everything is moving forward, then it doesn’t really matter who’s right, does it?

Those are my basic co-parenting rules. What are yours? I’d love to hear what you think of this and what rules you’ll put in place to keep yourself in a positive co-parenting frame of mind. Comment below!

When you apply these rules to the other tips and tools given to you in the co-parenting after divorce, videos, you become the co-parenting master. Learn more by clicking on the button below. 

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10 Things to Reply With Instead of Saying What You REALLY Want

Picture this. An email or a text comes through from your co-parent. You open it. It’s yet another angry message blaming you for anything and everything. It’s unwarranted and makes you want to scream. Actually. It makes you want to write back pointing out every idiotic, ridiculous thing they’ve done as a way to tell them that they have no say in your life and they have no idea what’s going on.

But you can’t. You can’t because you’re the positive co-parent and you’re modeling better behavior than that. You know that if you stoop to that level, your relationship will stay at that level until one of you rises above it. So you don’t. Even though you REALLY want to.

If you’re in this situation and struggle with what to say, here is a list of 3 responses that stay positive and above board when your ex has given you nothing to go off of in communication:

  1. Thank you for the feedback.

  2. I appreciate your concern.

  3. Thank you for the reply.

Here’s a list of 7 more responses when you want to keep conversation open, but you sense anger and resentment on the other side:

  1. That’s a different way of looking at it, thank you for the perspective.

  2. Do you have any other thoughts regarding (any issue you are discussing)?

  3. Why do you feel that way?

  4. Do you think there are other ways of looking at this issue?

  5. Is it possible we’re both right here, we’re just seeing this from different sides?

  6. I want to understand more about what you’re saying, can you elaborate?

  7. I’m open to more conversation about this, it’s a touchy subject so I’d like to gather my thoughts and get back to you by (be sure to enter a date and stick to it).

These responses are all positive and ensure you’re not shutting down communication, but they need to be genuine. If you’re saying, “Thanks for the reply” in a completely sarcastic tone, it will absolutely shut down communication.

Your role is one of positivity and modeling mature conversation. Having an idea of what to say when tension happens can help prevent you from being reactive. These are just a few ideas. I’d love to hear yours. Do you have a go-to phrase to keep things positive when all you want is to say something negative? Comment below!

Oh if I had a list of the things I WANTED to say instead of what I DID say, it would not be for kid's eyes. It's normal to have the thoughts, but your goal is positive co-parenting. Get all of the effective communication tips and tools in the co-parenting after divorce videos. Click on the button below to learn more. 

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