Coparenting Tips for Improving Communication from the expert authors of Overcoming the Alienation Crisis: 33 Coparenting Solutions. For more information about OCB Publications go here.
What if my coparent does not respond to emails or texts?
If your coparent does not respond to an email or text that you sent, you may feel ignored, dismissed, devalued, or brushed off. Your first impulse may be to send an escalated email such as, “This is the third time I’ve asked you if I can have extra time with the kids when my family is in town!” Or, you may send more emails or texts repeating your original message. The neutral response would be using your best diplomatic skills to send a follow-up communication requesting a specific time frame for a reply. For example, “I hope you got my earlier email about my family’s upcoming visit. I sent it three days ago. I hope everything is okay on your end. I’d like to make plans for their visit and would appreciate hearing from you at your earliest convenience about what options might exist for extra time with the kids on that weekend.” If you do not receive a response after your follow-up email and you need to decide or take an action, send your coparent an email stating your intent to decide on a plan within a certain amount of time. For example, “I continue to work on plans for my family’s visit. We have yet to clarify what the schedule for the kids will be, but I need to purchase tickets for the baseball game. My plan is to purchase six tickets for the game this coming Wednesday, assuming that you will arrange for the kids to go to the game with us. Thanks for helping me in my planning. Regards, Phillip.”
What if my coparent makes rude, sarcastic, or demeaning statements in an email or text?
Your coparent writes, “I got another report from the teacher that the kids not completing their homework is a problem. Seems to be another example of your problem with getting organized and following through.” After reading a message like this, you will likely feel hurt, angry, and tempted to respond in kind. The Escalated Coparent says what the composed, Neutral Coparent only thinks. The Escalated Coparent writes something like, “You are such a control freak.” The Neutral Coparent ignores the fight. They engage in self-talk that sounds something like, “My relationship with this person is over. I want to care less and less about their anger and aggression. I won’t let them hook me back into their misery by provoking me. I will stay focused on the business of parenting, focus on the signal and ignore the noise.” Then the Neutral Coparent writes, “I totally agree that the kids completing their homework is a top priority. I’ll look into the teacher’s report.” Over time it will become more and more obvious who is fanning the flames of the conflict. Ignoring the provocation often results in a decrease in negative commentary coming from the coparent.