Communicating with Your Ex

When children are involved, a divorce isn’t an ending. It’s just the beginning of a long, challenging cooperative effort to do what’s best for the kids in a tough situation.

I hear from divorced moms and dads who are frustrated and angry. They have a whole list of complaints against each other which leads to a total lack of communication and no healthy give-and-take. And the kids suffer.

Too often, the ex-spouses are incapable of simple, honest communication, where one person comes to the other and says, “This is what I need from you.” There’s no listening to the other point of view or any effort to negotiate a workable agreement. At best, they let their lawyers do the their talking.

If that describes you and your ex, it’s time to find a better way. Often, a non-custodial father’s relationship with his children depends heavily on the kids’ mother, so it’s important to be civil. With a few adjustments you can learn to communicate with each other.

A good start might sound like this: “I know there’s a lot of pain and bitterness between us, but can’t we just put that aside? Let’s not make our kids suffer any more for our mistakes.”

Here are some other examples: “I’m trying to be reliable and on time, but I’d be a lot more motivated if I knew you weren’t saying bad things about me in front of the kids.”

“If I knew I could really trust you, it would be a lot easier to let you see the kids more.”

“I really do want to help out financially, but it’s hard to make sacrifices when I see you taking expensive vacations.”

And remember, how you say something can be even more important than what you’re saying. It won’t be easy, but strive to avoid making accusations and getting upset. If it helps, view your ex as a business client. You need his or her help if you’re going to accomplish your goal-doing what’s best for your children. So be respectful as you attempt to close the deal.

Communication is the lifeblood of every successful parenting team. So please, dad, for the sake of your children, just be honest, swallow your pride, and talk to each other.

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