Improper communication skills can be a reason why couples divorce. When families do separate, healthy communication becomes important when trying to lessen the negative effects of divorce on the children. Feelings of security and love, as well as knowing that the divorce is not their fault helps kids make the transition with as little trouble as possible. Parents can shelter their children from difficult moments by making intentional choices on when and how to communicate.
Making a Communication Plan
After a divorce, parents who prepare a communication plan and stick to it can reduce the chances that inappropriate conversations or situations will arise. In a pamphlet for separated or divorced parents, the Massachusetts Association of Family and Conciliation Courts advises parents to decide the best way for communication to take place, how to avoid conflicts when dropping off or picking up children and to be flexible when plans need to be adjusted. The association also points out that exposure to conflicts between divorced parents can bring harm to the children involved. This makes planned communication even more important to the family climate.
Shield Children from the Conflict
It is important for parents to learn what situations seem to cause more conflict and then to work together proactively to shield children from them, so that parents can communicate better. Even if the other parent is uncooperative, maintaining a calm demeanor and not baiting the other parent into an argument can significantly reduce tension in a potential stressful situation, state Gayle Zieman, Ph.D. and Mary Ann Baker-Randall, Esq., in their article for "Parenting New Mexico." Resisting the urge to engage in conflict takes persistence, but Zieman and Baker-Randall encourage parents to persevere, noting that eventually the other parent will stop seeking disputes.
Kids Are Not Messengers
Parents need to understand that changing schedules or exchanging information is the responsibility of the parents -- not the child. Using a child to be a messenger draws them further into the divorce, and can make them feel torn between both parents and brings harm to the child, the MAFCC states. Zieman and Baker-Randall point out that using kids as messengers can create feelings of anger, so regardless of how difficult it is to act civilly with each other, be accountable for your own communication and leave the kids out of the discussion.
Put Your Child First
The MAFCC reminds parents that during a divorce, a child's experience is much different from those of adults. Through a child's eyes, the two people they love most in the world have stopped loving each other. While some children are more resilient than others are, parents who stay focused on the best interest of the kids can usually find common ground on which to communicate. Making decisions about academics, medical care and religious upbringing takes effective communication and cooperation, note the Law Offices of Johnson & Cohen.