Many divorced co-parents prefer to communicate about their children via text and email rather than by phone. They may find, particularly when the wounds of the marriage are still healing, that this is a safer choice than having a conversation with their ex. Texts and emails can also allow more conciseness and clarity Ð- resulting in less miscommunication and confusion.
The Problems with Written Communication
Unfortunately, some people use text and email messages to re-litigate their relationship issues and express their continued aggravations. ItÕs also much easier to speak your mind in writing Ð- maybe fueled by a glass of wine or beer at your side. In the meantime, the information that needs to be relayed about the kids or an issue that needs to be resolved is lost in the extraneous negativity.
Further, things may come across differently than the writer intended. Someone may be sure a comment was meant as a dig when it wasnÕt. This only exacerbates existing conflicts.
How Do You Get Past Negative Messages to Effectively Communicate in Writing?
So what do you do if the messages from your co-parent are consistently uncivil or insulting or if youÕre simply being inundated with texts and emails? Is it OK not to respond?
Determine whether the message is about your kids or something else you need to know or respond to. Within a vitriolic message, your co-parent may have something important to tell or ask you.
Look for the question in the message. This may mean scrolling through some nastiness. If an answer is required, then answer the question. However, donÕt engage in the negativity or respond to it. ItÕs better to come off as distant and keep the conversation civil. Your co-parent will likely learn eventually that he or she canÕt get a rise out of you.
Other Communications Options
Is your co-parent continuing to send negative, abusive, insulting messages? Are you finding yourself responding in kind or letting your anger take over your own messages? For your childrenÕs well-being and your own mental health, it may be best to opt for a less personal form of communication.
There are co-parenting apps that let people post schedules, expense information, medical reports and other information pertaining to their kids on a shared platform so that there is less need for direct communication. Your family law attorney can likely recommend a co-parenting app. This can allow you and your ex to have a bit of space that will allow you to lower the temperature until youÕre able to forge an amicable co-parenting relationship.
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