Communication between separated or divorced parents can be challenging. Depending on the age, health and circumstances of their child, parents will have to be in touch with each other as often as several times a day. For some parents, unresolved conflicts cause a breakdown in communication. The ties and demands of parenthood require parents to maintain a connection and communicate. With this in mind, telephone contact or written notes have been suggested as solutions. Both of these strategies can be problematic.
Talking on the telephone allows parents' emotions to be expressed without time to think. When strong feelings are involved, the conversation could get out of control before anything is accomplished. Sometimes a parent will tape the conversations secretly for use in court, which may make bad feelings between parents even worse.
Written notes are a permanent record and keep the parents apart, but put the child who delivers them in an uncomfortable position. These notes may feel like demands that exclude one parent from decision making. The child is then put in the middle of the disagreement where he is exposed to the parent's anger or hurt feelings.
Texting poses the possiblity of "shooting from the hip". It's too quick and easy to send a text and can be done thoughlessly. Text records can be used later as a record in court. Remember, divorce is emotional. If you text from an emotional place, you might say something you don't mean or may later regret.
Email is an alternative to the telephone, texts or notes. Email is an electronic record that both parents have access to. When a parent receives an email, they have the time to cool down before they respond. That reply is received quickly enough so both parents can give their input and reach a solution together. Email removes the child from the conflict because emails can be read anytime and kept private. Emails can easily be referenced to remember agreements that might not have been accomplished on the phone or on paper.
Email is meant to make the relationship between separated or divorced parents workable, not better.
To make email communication successful, parents should remember these guidelines:
Excerpted in part from Gary Direnfeld, author of Raising Kids Without Raising Cane. firstname.lastname@example.org
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