PROBLEM SOLVING STEPS
For the Co-parenting Business Relationship
Although your relationship with the other parent has changed, there may still be issues of disagreement or moments of conflict. The following steps may assist you in your efforts to address and resolve parenting issues.
When you are really upset and angry is NOT the best time to discuss your concern with the other parent. Calm down, take some time to step back from the situation, and then contact the other parent and determine when would be a good time to talk to them regarding their concern.
When discussing the concern, use “I” messages. For example, statements like “I was concerned about” … “I was thinking next time we could”; instead of “You always, “You never”, etc. “You” indicates blame, it will make the other parent defensive, and close the lines of communication. When using “I” messages, you are taking responsibility for your concern.
If the other parent asks you to not yell at them, lower your voice and slow down. If the other parent yells at you, and won’t calm down when asked, take a time-out and tell them you will talk to them later.
If the conversation is starting to get out of hand (i.e. name calling, yelling, going back to old issues, etc.) and your attempts to bring it back to the topic at hand have been unsuccessful, it may be best to take a “time-out” from the discussion. You can do that by simply saying “I need to finish this at another time. Can we talk on ….? (give a specific time, date, and method to continue the conversation). If you are the one who wants the time out, it is your responsibility to set up the next conversation. A time-out is NOT to be used to avoid the issue, it is just used to calm down and start to think of possible solutions.* Stay on one issue at a time and stay in the present tense. Do not go back to old issues – you couldn’t solve them in the past, and you won’t be able to resolve past issues now. You have a different relationship with the other parent now. Stay in the present and stay on one issue at a time. None of us can resolve several issues at once. We must focus on resolving one issue at a time. If the other parent brings up another issue, tell them you are willing to discuss that issue next, write it down so you will remember it, and ask them if you can work on the present issue first. Even if they keep trying to go to the past, you can stay in the present with “can we finish talking about … ?
When you are trying to resolve the concern, remember “an attitude of compromise is going to be important. “How do we work this out?” as opposed to “my way” will go a long way in strengthening this new and different co-parenting business relationship.
Do not tell the other parent what to do unless they ask for advice. It is better to say “How do you think we should avoid this in the future?”, or “How do we want to handle this now?”, or “I was thinking we could …. what do you think?”. This is a co-parenting business relationship. If the solution is agreed on by both of you, it has a higher probability of being successful.