KARI COOK, August 6th, 2019

As is the case in any type of relationship, communication is so important, especially when trying to find a comfortable middle ground to co-parent. Depending on the age of the child or children involved, this may mean scheduling carpools, keeping an eye on grades, and discussing sensitive topics. It is truly imperative that both parties are able to be on the same page, even if they may not be in the same house. So the big question is: how much communication is too much communication between you and your co-parent?

Obviously, there is a learning curve when learning to fairly separate the tasks and responsibilities of each parent, but after some time, outside of emergencies, once or twice a week should be more than enough to keep things on track. Constant communication can be overwhelming for both parties and constantly changing the daily or weekly schedule can be confusing for the child, or children, as well. But what should you do if your co-parent will not reply? 

The truth is, often it is unclear, or misunderstood, whether, and to what extent, either parent has a legal obligation to reply to the other, but being non-responsive can cause disorganization, miscommunication, and frustration for everyone involved. Civil Communicator recommends giving the other party 24-hours to reply before resending a message. Repeatedly sending reminders is discouraged. There is a fine line between reminding the other party or resubmitting a request which may have been overlooked the first time, on the one hand, and being abusive on the other. Also, keep in mind that, if you have received a message that requires a response, but are too busy to address it at the time, simply responding with something like “I’ll respond later” will at least let the other party know what to expect. The important thing here, of course, is to follow up as you have promised and respond at a more convenient time. On the other hand, if you are not comfortable with the question or topic, it is best to inform the other party of the fact. Responding with “I am not comfortable discussing the topic” will at least close the loop on the conversation. 

Another sign you may be communicating too frequently is if your conversations are drifting outside of your children’s needs. Your communications should mainly revolve around maintaining a healthy environment and a “normal” schedule for your children. You shouldn’t get into your weekend plans, your work drama, or unnecessary arguments. 

Both parents communicating with the child or children involved is just as important as communicating with each other. The child shouldn’t wonder who is picking them up from school that day, or at whose house they’re spending the weekend. A schedule with structure can help relieve stress not only for the parents, but for the child as well. Keep in mind, however, that communicating with your child does not mean using your child as a conduit for communications with your co-parent.

The most important thing for your child is not for you and your ex to remain best friends; the most important thing is that the child is given an environment in which to grow up that isn’t toxic and manipulative. Setting and maintaining realistic and consistent guidelines and maintaining open and productive communications with both your co-parent and your children can really help in reducing conflict and optimizing your home environment.