When you are raising your children across two different households post-divorce or legal separation in New Mexico, communication between you and your co-parent becomes incredibly important. When that communication breaks down, it will be your children who suffer the consequences. Conflicts abound, children become messengers, and simple events turn chaotic when co-parents no longer see the true purpose of communication between themselves, which is raising healthy and happy children.
Even the most dedicated parents can experience breakdowns in parenting communication. Frustration, disappointment and stress from the past and the present can easily creep into a conversation and set a negative tone that carries on for days, weeks or even months afterward. This is why it’s so important to be able to recognize and break a cycle of communication between you and your co-parent that is unproductive, and to take steps to prevent adding fuel to the fire of unnecessary disputes. Text messaging often offers the most potential for conflict between co-parents, so here are some tips on how to handle those intense texts from your ex.
Set a civil tone
Messaging between you and your co-parent does not have to be warm, and sometimes politeness is the best you can hope for. Even if your messages are distant, however, you still need to keep it respectful for the sake of the co-parenting relationship and your own mental health.
When you are reading a message from your co-parent during a tough time in your communications, set a baseline of civility that you are going to adhere to before you respond. Avoid swearing or adding insults into your messages as this type of conflict will only distract from your children and their needs.
Don’t respond to everything
During a time of conflict with your co-parent, you may find yourself with a message from him or her that doesn’t really have anything to do with your kids. For the sake of the co-parenting relationship, it’s best to disengage when your co-parent is bringing up things from the past that have nothing to do with your children today. When you continually refuse to respond to these sorts of messages, your co-parent will eventually stop sending them.
Keep in mind that you will need to be honest about your feelings when this sort of thing happens. If a contentious point does pertain to your own negative behavior as a co-parent, your emotions shouldn’t be used as a way to dismiss that point if your co-parent has a valid concern or position.
Consider the question
If you’re not sure whether you should respond to a co-parent’s message, consider whether that message even contains a question to begin with. Responding to a message with conflict potential that doesn’t have a request for information may not be worth it.
When it comes to messages with inappropriate language and valid questions, you’ll have to use your own judgment. Ignoring the language to provide the answer alone can be difficult, and sometimes, not engaging with messages that are designed to antagonize you can defuse a situation before it starts. At the very least, if you feel you have enough self-control to respond with the details requested only, your business-like reply will help you avoid becoming mired in your co-parent’s negativity. If you are unable to resist the urge to respond to your co-parent’s negativity, your best bet is to ignore the message until your co-parent asks the question in a civil way.
With co-parenting relationships that contain conflict, messaging can be a tough platform and even provide opportunities to escalate the conflict. By taking the time to evaluate a message, think about what it means, and review your reply before you press “send,” you can help keep co-parenting communication on the right level.