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How to Communicate in a Parallel Parenting Arrangement

by | Apr 4, 2023 | 0 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

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Are you having a hard time communicating with your ex while trying to parallel parent your children?

This can be frustrating and make it hard for you to co-parent effectively, especially if you are trying to co-parent with a narcissist or just a difficult ex.

You may find yourself caught in endless arguments and perpetual conflicts!

Communication should be a priority when it comes to parenting with your ex, even if it seems impossible.

I want to help you avoid common mistakes when it comes to communicating with your ex and find ways to talk to them that don’t end in a blowout.

Let’s get started!

How Often Should Co-Parents Communicate?

The frequency of communication between co-parents depends on the needs of the children and the level of conflict between the parents.

In general, co-parents should communicate as often as necessary to ensure that the children’s needs are being met and that they are safe, healthy, and happy.

However, if there is a lot of conflict between the co-parents, it may be necessary to limit communication to only the most essential topics.

A co-parenting therapist or mediator can help co-parents establish a communication plan that works for their specific situation.

When you do have to communicate with your co-parenting narcissists, use these tips:

How to Communicate When Parallel Parenting

Parallel parenting is a form of co-parenting that is often used in high-conflict situations where traditional co-parenting is not feasible.

In parallel parenting, each parent has their own separate household and makes decisions for the child independently.

Here are some tips for communicating effectively in a parallel parenting arrangement:

Use a Communication Method That Works for Both Parties

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It’s essential to find a communication method that works for both parents.

This could be email, text messaging, or a co-parenting app. It’s important to establish clear guidelines around communication, including frequency and expectations around response time.

Here are some communication methods for parallel parenting:

  • Use a communication app: There are several communication apps available that allow you to communicate with the other parent without actually speaking to them. These apps often have features like shared calendars, messaging, and document sharing, which can help keep communication efficient and effective.
  • Use email or text: Email and text can be good communication methods for parallel parenting, as it allows you to communicate without having to speak directly to the other parent. Make sure to keep your emails and texts brief and to the point, and avoid using inflammatory language or discussing personal issues.
  • Use a neutral third party: If communication is particularly difficult, consider using a neutral third party, such as a mediator or co-parenting coach, to facilitate communication. This person can help keep the conversation focused and productive and can help diffuse any conflicts that may arise.
  • Use a parenting notebook: A parenting notebook is a physical notebook that is passed back and forth between the parents and is used to communicate about the children’s needs, schedules, and other important information. This can be a good method for parallel parenting, as it allows for written communication without having to speak to the other parent.
  • Use a parenting website: There are several websites that are specifically designed for co-parenting and can be a good communication method for parallel parenting. These websites often have features like shared calendars, messaging, and document sharing, which can help keep communication efficient and effective.

Limit Communication if You Have To

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Limiting communication when parallel parenting is important to reduce conflict and maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship.

Here are some ways to limit communication when parallel parenting:

  • Use a parenting plan: A parenting plan is a written agreement that outlines the responsibilities and schedule of each parent. This can help reduce the need for communication, as each parent knows their responsibilities and schedule in advance.
  • Set boundaries: Set clear boundaries for communication, such as only communicating about important matters and avoiding discussing personal issues. Stick to these boundaries to avoid unnecessary communication and potential conflict.
  • Be polite and professional: When communicating with the other parent, always be polite and professional. Avoid using inflammatory language and keep the conversation focused on your children’s needs and schedules.

Remember, the goal of parallel parenting is to co-parent effectively while reducing conflict.

By limiting communication and using a communication method that works best for both parties, you can maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship.

Keep Communication Focused on the Child

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In a parallel parenting arrangement, it’s crucial to keep communication focused on the child’s needs. Avoid discussing personal matters or engaging in arguments.

It helps to prioritize the child’s needs and reduce conflict between the parents.

Here are some ways to focus communication on your child when parallel parenting:

  • Keep communication child-centered: When communicating with the other parent, keep the conversation focused on your child’s needs and well-being. Avoid discussing personal issues or past conflicts, and keep the conversation focused on your child.
  • Share important information about the child: Share important information about your child’s health, education, and extracurricular activities with the other parent. This can help ensure that both parents are aware of the child’s needs and can make informed decisions.
  • Use a shared calendar: A shared calendar can help both parents stay informed about the child’s schedule and important events. This can reduce the need for communication and help ensure that both parents are aware of the child’s schedule.
  • Encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent: Encourage your child to have a positive relationship with the other parent. This can be done by speaking positively about the other parent in front of your child, supporting your child’s visits with the other parent, and avoiding negative comments or behaviors that could damage your child’s relationship with the other parent.
  • Avoid negative communication: Avoid using negative language or behaviors when communicating with the other parent. This can include avoiding criticism or blame, avoiding aggressive or confrontational language, and avoiding discussing past conflicts.

Use a Neutral Tone

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It’s important to communicate in a neutral tone, without any hint of hostility or blame. Be clear, concise, and respectful in your communication.

Communicating respectfully with a co-parent is important for maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship and minimizing conflict.

Here are some ways to communicate respectfully with a co-parent:

  • Be polite: Start communication with a polite and respectful tone. Avoid using accusatory language or a confrontational tone. Use “please” and “thank you” to show respect.
  • Use active listening: When the other parent is speaking, actively listen to what they are saying without interrupting or getting defensive. Paraphrase what they said to ensure that you understand their perspective.
  • Be open to compromise: I know compromising with a difficult co-parent may seem impossible, but try to be open to compromise when discussing issues related to your child’s care. Avoid being rigid and try to find solutions that work for both parents and your child.
  • Keep communication brief and to the point: Keep communication brief and to the point. Avoid long-winded messages or conversations that can become confusing or overwhelming.

Respectful communication is key to maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship. By showing respect and focusing on your child’s needs, you can reduce conflict and create a positive co-parenting environment.

Just remember that sometimes you do have to hold your ground, and there is nothing wrong with being assertive and effective when parallel parenting.

Use “I” Statements

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When expressing your thoughts or concerns, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements.

“I” statements are important in conflict because they can help prevent the other person from becoming defensive and feeling attacked.

When we use “I” statements, we express our own feelings, thoughts, and beliefs instead of making assumptions or attacking the other person’s character.

This can help the other person understand our perspective without feeling threatened.

For example, instead of saying, “You always do this wrong,” which can make the other person feel attacked and defensive, we can say, “I feel frustrated when this happens.”

By using “I” statements, we take ownership of our feelings and express them in a way that is less likely to provoke a defensive response from the other person.

“I” statements can also help de-escalate conflict by focusing on the issue at hand rather than attacking the other person. This can help keep the conversation productive and focused on finding a solution rather than blaming or attacking the other person.

Overall, using “I” statements can help improve communication and reduce conflict in a variety of situations, including conflict with a co-parent.

By expressing our own feelings and thoughts in a non-threatening way, we can create a more positive and productive conversation that is focused on finding a solution rather than attacking the other person.

Don’t Use Your Child as a Messenger

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Using your child as a messenger can be harmful to their well-being and can create unnecessary conflict between co-parents.

Here are some reasons why you should not use your child as a messenger:

  • It can put the child in an uncomfortable position: Asking a child to relay messages between co-parents can put them in an uncomfortable position. The child may feel caught in the middle of a conflict and may not know how to respond.
  • It can create confusion: Messages that are relayed through a child can be misunderstood or distorted. The child may not remember the message accurately or may not understand the full context of the message, which can lead to confusion or misunderstandings.
  • It can be emotionally damaging: Using a child as a messenger can be emotionally damaging to the child. The child may feel caught in the middle of a conflict and may feel responsible for resolving the conflict, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and guilt.
  • It can create more conflict: Using a child as a messenger can create more conflict between co-parents. If the message is not received well by the other parent, it can lead to further misunderstandings or arguments.

To avoid using your child as a messenger, it’s important to communicate directly with the other co-parent. This can be done through phone calls, emails, or text messages.

If face-to-face communication is difficult, consider using a communication app or mediator to facilitate communication.

Pick Your Battles When It Comes to Arguments

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When co-parenting, it’s important to pick your battles when it comes to arguments.

Not all issues are equally important, and not all conflicts are worth pursuing.

When picking your battles, it’s important to consider the impact of the issue on your child’s well-being.

Is it a matter of safety or health? Is it an issue that directly affects your child’s well-being?

If so, it may be worth pursuing.

However, if it’s a minor issue that does not significantly impact your child’s well-being, it may be better to let it go.

Don’t Let What They Say Get to You

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You cannot control what the other co-parent says, but you can control how you react to it.

By learning how to manage your emotions and respond in a healthy way, you can improve your co-parenting relationship and provide a positive example for your child.

Here are some strategies you can use to not let what the other co-parent says get to you:

  • Take a deep breath: When you feel upset or angry, take a deep breath and count to ten. This can help you calm down and respond in a more rational way.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is a practice that involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to observe your thoughts and emotions without reacting to them.
  • Use positive self-talk: When you feel upset or angry, try to use positive self-talk. For example, tell yourself, “I can handle this,” or “I am doing the best I can.” This can help you feel more confident and in control.
  • Seek support: Talk to a friend, family member, or therapist about your feelings. Having someone to talk to can help you process your emotions and gain perspective.
  • Don’t engage in an argument: If the other co-parent says something that upsets you, try not to engage in an argument. Instead, calmly state your point of view and then disengage from the conversation.
  • Focus on what’s important: Remember what’s important – your child’s well-being. Try to keep your focus on what’s best for your child, and don’t let the other co-parent’s words distract you from that.

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Communicating With a Difficult Ex – It’s Worth Trying!

I hope this article has helped to shed light on the difficulties of living in a parallel parenting arrangement and given you some tips on how to go about effectively communicating with your ex.

There is no easy way to do it, but with patience, good communication, and practice, it can become easier.

And it is definitely worth the effort!

Let me know in the comments any tips and tricks you have for communicating with a co-parenting narcissist or difficult ex.

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