Hack #1: In weekly e-mails, use HEART.
After divorce, parents often find it difficult to communicate. Lingering anger and raw emotion remain roadblocks, even when it comes to discussing the children you both love.
In co-parenting with her ex, Monique Honaman makes it her mantra to “always take the high road.” She has found that emailing her ex using the HEART strategy works best for her. HEART stands for “Health, Education, Activities, Religion, Talk.”
An email using HEART might be structured like this:
- Health: An update about the child’s visit to the doctor and a reminder that an antibiotic should be taken before bedtime.
- Education: An update on the fact that the child has a big math test to study for.
- Activities: An update that baseball practice starts this week and cleats must be purchased.
- Religion: An update that the Sunday School picnic is this weekend and Confirmation class is Wednesday night.
- Talk: An update for anything else not covered. (bullying at school, tears over divorce, best friend got mad, not invited to a party, and so on).
“By categorizing weekly email into five sections, all important information is covered, questions can be answered, and neither parent can accuse the other of keeping them in the dark about the kids. With HEART, parents avoid blame, anger, and emotion.—Monique
Monique Honaman is the author of The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce and The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view. Learn more at www.highroadlesstraffic.com.
Hack #2: Question yourself.
Rosalind Sedacca founded the Child-Centered Divorce Network. She is a divorce and parenting coach and the author of several books and programs on divorce and parenting issues.
Rosalind encourages co-parents to ask themselves these two questions when things get tough:
- Do I love my kids more than I dislike my ex? “It’s your responsibility to be a role model for your children. Keep that in mind for every decision you make,” says Rosalind.
- Would I be making the same parenting decision if we were still married? “If you’re changing your behavior to get back at or hurt your co-parent, your children pay the price,” Rosalind reminds.
Learn more about Rosalind Sedacca and browse her e-books, podcast, and other resources at www.childcentereddivorce.com.
Hack #3: Commit to your kids with the help of a pro.
Jennifer Beeston and her ex endured a less-than-pretty divorce but were committed to co-parenting their son. After the split, they spent six months in professional co-parenting counseling where they were able to vent, work through anger, and move past the hurt of their divorce for the sake of their son.
“My ex and I co-parent better than we did when we were married. Those six months were the best investment I ever made. We now support each other and provide a united front to our son, which has helped him stay a happy kid. A good co-parenting counselor can make all the difference in the world.”—Jennifer
Hack #4: Compartmentalize your communication.
Dr. Barbara Winter has practiced psychology for 30 years and specializes in divorce recovery. She is also a parenting coordinator. She offers these tips for co-parents who face a non-friendly, non-cooperative separation or divorce.
- Set up a dedicated e-mail box for your ex. This helps to compartmentalize things. You can open the e-mail when you’re in the right frame of mind to craft a healthy, useful, and productive response. This is far better than sending an impulsive and potentially destructive response. It also creates an email trail, should you need it later.
- Use text messages for urgent issues only. “Urgent” is a relative term that should first be defined by you and your ex. Also consider how often you and your ex check your phones for texts.
- Stick to the facts. Use friendly, factual language that is direct and without extraneous emotion or distractions.
Learn more about Dr. Barbara Winter and her work at www.drbarbarawinter.com.
Hack #5: Stay “app-y” with the help of tech tools.
Click the link below to view a list of handy apps from ivemovedon.com. These apps can help you automate child support, organize custody visits between parents and other family members, track expenses, and maintain a database of contacts important in your child’s life, from the pediatrician to the softball coach.