Divorce Support For Parents: Successful Email Communication

Want to successfully raise your children after divorce? Communication is a must! Though many divorcing couples would like nothing better than to sever ties, former spouses do become co parents. And clearly some co parenting situations are stressful. The negotiation process, which may have failed during the marriage, is dissolved. Many of the responsibilities of the past are gone with the onset of divorce; however, one remains. Co parenting your children is an ongoing, life-long job.

After divorce, parents sometimes feel free to express themselves and make individual parenting choices. This parenting isolation, however, puts children in a difficult situation. Children who are raised in two homes with two distinctive styles can become confused and emotionally unsettled. Parents need to remain in contact, which isn’t so easy if parents don’t like each other. At times, recommending contact is like forcing a child to eat broccoli.

Many therapists recommend email communication for co parents. Writing an email can be non-threatening— if done properly. “Properly” is the key word here. I have spent years being copied on emails that frankly shocked me. Thus, to co-parent properly via email, parents can use a format that I call Kid News. Here’s what it might look like:

Kid News

School: Grades, homework, incidents at school, forms that need to be filled out etc. Health:   Colds, doctors’ appointments, dentist, counseling, moods, puberty etc. Financial: Payments due or parenting plan division of costs for activities, medical etc. Schedule Changes: Upcoming changes to the current schedule, changes in your child’s plans, residential and holiday times etc. Vacations: Clarification of times and plans – phone numbers etc. Upcoming Events: Social, school, extracurricular or sport activities in which your child has expressed an interest.

Each family will have different items in their “Kid News.” Issues can be added as they arise. There are, however, two things to keep in mind. Firstly, children do best when they travel home to home rather than planet to planet. That is to say, that a consistent daily schedule is important. For instance, if while at mom’s home the child does his homework right after school, it is best if he does his homework after school at dad’s house too. If the schedule can be kept as consistent as possible, then the children will flow from one home to the other with ease.

Secondly, children have moods, develop phobias, and change developmentally rather quickly. “Kids News” can be a place to share concerns or observed changes. Finally, it is important to note that this is not the forum to discuss issues between parents. A line must be drawn between your personal relationship and your co-parenting responsibilities.

To make this work, parents pick a day to send their news based on the parenting plan schedule. If you drop off the children to their other home on Sunday night, send the Kid News on Monday. Write the newsletter using only the facts: “David had a cold this weekend. He rested and seems to be doing fine now.” Or “Julie gave me a form for school pictures. I copied it and put the form back in her backpack.” And be sure not to give instructions to the other parent like, “Make sure you give David his cough syrup at night.” You can say, “He slept well when he was given cough syrup at night.” Co parents must realize their range of influence over the other parent is limited. In my experience most parent-to-parent challenges are due to the desire for control over the other parent.

Both parents need to send news from their personal perspective and experience with the children. Always respond to the other parent’s news. Check through each item to see if a response is needed and, if not, thank the other parent for the effort. This will limit needless email contact. Finally, if you are the parent who is interested in Kid News and the other is not, continue to write. The other parent’s behavior should not influence the way you do your job.

Copyright 2008 Parent Education Group – Reprints Accepted – Two links must be active in the bio. The article homepage: http://www.familyauthority.com/articles/divorce_support.html

Laura Doerflinger, MS, a licensed mental health counselor, is the Executive Director of the Parent Education Group at http://www.familyauthority.com/ and the author of the audio book, Emotionally Balanced Parenting.
Article Source

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.