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 are some guidelines for how coparents can best use email and text messaging?
The following email guidelines are suggested:
- Use a business relationship model. The business is related to the welfare of your child. The business that needs to be transacted is information sharing, coordination of schedules and activities, and requests for changes. The tone is formal, polite, and respectful, without personal commentary. Begin with a polite greeting such as “Hi John” and end with a respectful “Sincerely” or “Best Regards.”
- Limit the number of messages. Parents should not send more than two new emails per day, each with one topic per email, unless an emergency exists. No emails should be sent on the weekend unless urgent.
- Respond to emails within 48 hours for routine matters, and as soon as possible for emails marked “Urgent” in the subject line. If the receiver needs more time to respond, they should indicate this need, together with a specific time frame for responding.
- The email should be one short paragraph, no more than five sentences in length.
- The communication should be either: 1) future-focused regarding an emerging problem, or 2) informative, such as providing information from a medical appointment.
- The content of the email must pertain to the child rather than money, property, etc.
- If the email involves something transactional (a requested change in the schedule, etc.), the requesting parent should include a specific proposal to address the issue.
- If a parent wishes to make a proposal, include WHO does WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE. The response to a proposal should be a clear “Yes,” “No,” or a counterproposal.
- Each item should be said only once (no repeating what was said in the past).
- Keep communication factual and neutral. Avoid emotion and judgment. No abusive, insulting, sarcastic, or profane language. NO CAPITAL LETTERS FOR EMPHASIS!!!
- Emails should be between parents rather than a stepparent to a parent, unless otherwise agreed.
If you and your coparent cannot refrain from violating these rules, consider using a coparenting app that includes communication documentation and/or editing such as ProperComm, coParenter, or OurFamilyWizard.