Many issues can arise post-divorce when trying to parent with an ex. There are a lot of emotions that come into play, but there is some basic etiquette that can be followed in order to maintain a level of respect.
1. Determine, communicate, and maintain boundaries.
Determine and communicate boundaries around time, space, and communication. Showing up to your exes household unannounced, texting at 2:00 in the morning, and constant phone calls may violate your boundaries. Identify what you need. Determine and clearly define the boundary. Communicate and reinforce as needed.
- I will not be taking any phone calls/texts before 8:00 am or after 9:00pm.
- Coming to my house unexpected is not acceptable. I expect you to get permission prior to coming to my house.
2. Keep the texting and phone calls to a minimum and keep them child centered.
Maintaining business like communication regarding the kids seems to make the most sense. A constant barrage of texts and phone calls isn’t necessary. Determine and communicate boundaries around appropriate times to text or call. Calling your ex constantly to discuss your personal issues isn’t appropriate either. It’s important to maintain boundaries around the content of your communications as well.
- Let’s talk once a month and look at the upcoming month’s schedule. What do you think?
- If you need household repair tips, medical guidance, or dating advice, I suggest you contact a family member or friend instead of me.
3. Communicate respectfully. That means no yelling, swearing, threats, or verbal assaults to your ex or their partner.
Good communication happens when both parties are calm. Screaming, swearing, making threats, and verbally attacking your ex or their partner isn’t healthy. If you’re dealing with a high-conflict personality, you may not be able to avoid this type of conflict. In that case, keep communication limited and end any communication as soon as it becomes disrespectful. You can also communicate solely in writing via text, email, or an app designed for this purpose. Communicating in writing allows you to process things before they are communicated. It also allows there to be a record of what was said and it can help take the emotional aspect out of the communication.
4. Communicate with the other parent when making decisions about the children that impact the other parent.
Decisions regarding the children that impact the other parent should be discussed and approved by both parties. Requests should be made rather than making demands or assumptions.
5. Maintain consistency with the schedule. Communicate and make a request when a schedule change is needed.
Children thrive when there is structure and consistency. It allows children to feel safe when they can depend on a consistent schedule. Transitioning between homes can cause stress on a child as well, therefore schedule changes should be kept to a minimum. Of course, things come up and when they do, requests for schedule changes should be made in advance (when possible). If schedule changes cannot be accommodated, then the party making the schedule change should find appropriate child-care to cover their time.
Both parties can maintain a respectful relationship when basic etiquette is followed. Keep in mind that these general rules may not apply when dealing with high-conflict personalities. Post-divorce emotions and issues can take over when trying to parent with an ex. Maintaining basic etiquette can foster a civil relationship with your ex, which ultimately benefits your children.