Updated: Nov 8
Unless you are lucky enough to have children with “Co-parent of The Year”, communicating can have its challenges. If you have a difficult coparent, challenging communication is par for the course; even the basics are onerous.
If you think that you cannot end a communication (email, text or verbal) with your co parent when it has turned foul, you would be wrong. You can, and you should.
“Taking the high road” or trying to be the best cooperative co-parent you can be does not mean that you must stay in the ring and tolerate, criticism, rudeness, and disrespect.
If the conversation deteriorates, it’s time to give your nervous system a break. Further, it protects you from jumping in the mud with them.
It might take practice to know when the conversation should end, but it can be useful to remember that most people set boundaries too late when they are already irritated and agitated, so sooner is better than later.
Here are some words you can use to detach from the conversation effectively and respectfully.
"I’d like to have this conversation with you, but only if you are willing to refrain from personal attacks."
"Please stop making assumptions or I will end the conversation."
"This conversation is done for me. I do not like the tone. I will be back in touch to discuss options."
“I don’t think we’ll be able to get anywhere with this right now.” I will email you again in a few days."
"I’m going to step away from this conversation. I will get back to you."
Detaching with respect IS the high road.
I am not suggesting you end the conversation and never return unless there is some reasonable work around where you don’t need your co-parent’s input. If their input or a consensus is needed, the conversation requires another shot.
If you consistently detach when your co-parent goes offside, it sets off a trip wire. You have effectively taken control of what you will and will not engage in and have strengthened the muscle of setting boundaries.
If you see this strategy through consistently, new set points will be established. At least on your end. You succeed by respecting yourself and sending a clear message to your co-parent about what you will and will not participate in. You got this.
Have you visited Co-Parenting College?