One of the biggest challenges of a divorce with custody disputes is finding a way to mutually deal with parenting decisions in the future. The transition from a mutual parenting environment to co-parenting as a divorced couple is challenging, especially when the divorce is not an amicable one. Positive communication techniques can help you to work with your ex when necessary without the emotional upheaval that leads to arguments and bickering. Here are some tips to help you create a solid parenting plan and arrive at decisions that are best for your children.
Recognizing The Importance Of Listening
Most people think that it's easy to listen to others. What you may not realize is that listening isn't a passive action. In order to truly listen to someone, you need to be attentive and not make assumptions. It's easy to fall into a pattern with someone you know well where you believe you already know what he or she is going to say. When you do this, you stop listening and fail to actually understand what's going on.
Do not go into a conversation clouded by the relationship and your past interactions. Instead, make sure that you are actually listening to what's being said, not just physically hearing the words and assuming what you think they mean. Before you respond to something that's said, take a minute to actually process the statement and think about it. Ensure that your response is focused on the best interest of your child, not an attempt to hurt each other's feelings.
In order to truly communicate, you need to validate each other's words. When you listen to a statement from your significant other, repeat the statement back to him or her in the way that you heard it so that you can be sure that you are actually understanding the message.
This reduces the chances of a misunderstanding while also helping your ex feel validated and heard. Remember that even if you both see your child's best interest differently, you're likely both still working toward that interest.
Make sure that any statements you make focus on facts and detail how you feel about things as they relate to your kids, not how they affect you. That way, you avoid making accusations or letting your own hurt feelings affect the discussion.
If you find that you're struggling with the communication process, or you need help developing a parenting plan, working with a family lawyer is a great place to start. The attorney can serve as an impartial third party who can help you both arrive at mutual settlements. An attorney like those at Hawkins Bingham & Miller may be able to help.