Choose what you say – words matter. Excerpt from The A-Z guide to Cooperative Parenting. Matt Sossi J.D.

Choose the words you use when talking to your ex.

While it is true that sticks and bones can break your bones, words can irritate you to no end.  Choose what you say and how you say it, words matter to the other parent as well as your child. Remember that children will never forget what you said about their other parent. 

Make sure to be objective and take responsibility of your actions. If all you can say to your ex are four letter words, in one, two or multiple combo assortments, stop talking! If you feel the urge to get your anger out, go to the gym or go on a walk. 

After your divorce, the only things that you should be talking to your ex are issues concerning the child, not on things that occurred during the marriage. Avoid constant one on one interaction with your ex.

Sending messages by email is a great way to be direct and concise when communicating with an ex.  If you all you find yourself doing is typing some ridiculous rant, go ahead and type, just remember to hit the delete button.  Remember, all your ex needs is information, so send your ex the true contents of whatever information you need relayed and walk away from the computer.

Sometimes it is also beneficial to have a programmed response if you do have to talk directly to your ex.  You certainly would never get in trouble with saying, How’s the weather? Or, how’s your mom or dad doing?  You get the point, have a programmed statement you will say in your head and use it to avoid saying something stupid.  There is no need to create unnecessary conflict between you and your ex.

Learn ways to share information WITHOUT directly talking to your ex.  Providing passwords to parent portals, providing school or sport events through email or text message in advance of scheduled events will lessen the need to actually talk with your ex. 

Your ability to create distance between yourself and your ex should reduce the irritation you feel when dealing with them.  Reducing your irritation should allow you to be more effective in communicating with your ex allowing you to focus on the needs of your children.   

Coordinating pickup and drop off from school to school may be another way to lessen needed communication between the parents.  A father may need to talk to his ex less if he can decipher from the teacher the tasks the child faces and what he is needed to do.  A father might also be more objective in understanding problems that his child is facing at school by having him talk directly with the child’s teacher. Lesser interaction means less conflict.

Limited interaction is best in a hostile breakup because your children will see HOW you react with the other parent and will be negatively affected because of it.  If your child see’s that you hate your ex what is the message you think you are sending?  Will your child take your ex’s side and think that you are the true reason why you no longer are a family.  Will your child take your side and believe that it is acceptable to hate your ex.  There is no positive side effect for your children watching you have a confrontational relationship with your ex.  

Make sure to never make negative comments about your ex in your child’s presence.   There are three things you are guaranteed to accomplish when you disparage your ex in front of your child 1. You will create distance between you and your child immediately and 2. You will negatively affect your life long relationship with your child.  3. You will negatively affect your child’s ability to be happy in the future.

When your child criticizes your ex say something like “Your mother loves you and she does the very best she can for you.”  Keep consistent and never ever stray from this advice.  Let your child find their own relationship with your ex and let them be at peace with it.  Let that be the end of it.

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