When in conflict situations, we either instinctively fight or choose to not engage. (Fight-or-flight-response
). These reactions can make co-parenting challenging. Remember that we are all on a roller coaster of emotions - each of us on our own timeframe. Use the following tips to "support" the other parent (yes I know what you are thinking) - remember that a high conflict situation is not in the best interest of your children - do it for your children (and your own sanity). Jennifer Wolf writes:
Final Thoughts on Learning to Be More Assertive with Your Ex
- Evaluate your choices
Part of being assertive is realizing that you have options. You can't control how other people behave, but you can choose your behavior and how you choose to respond when you're angry, upset, or hurt. This often requires you to disengage from the argument in the moment, so that you can take a fresh look at what your options really are.
- Ask for what you need.
Many of us make the mistake of expecting others to treat us like we would treat them. And while this would be great in a perfect world, it's not realistic. So don't assume that others - your ex included - will automatically know what you need or what you're thinking. Instead, be direct and ask for what you need.
- Use "I" statements
Instead of placing blame or starting sentences with "You always" or "You never," make an effort to focus on yourself with statements such as "I feel" or "I've found."
- Frame suggestions around what has worked for you
When we tell people that they're doing something 'the wrong way,' they naturally become defensive. So take a completely different approach: share something you've discovered personally that has worked well for you. For example, "Remember when I was having trouble getting Eddie to eat breakfast? For me, the trick that worked was waiting until after he ate to turn on the TV." This allows you to share your experience in a non-threatening way - while hopefully inspiring your ex to give it a try!
- Share your thoughts respectfully
Especially when you're first learning how to be assertive with your ex, it's important to stay calm and speak from the heart. Use your tone of voice to let him or her know that you have an open mind and that you're just trying to gather more information so that you can resolve this issue together.
- Focus on your common goals
Use language like, "We both want..." to help the other person see that you're bringing this up - even though it's difficult - because you want to reach that common goal of consistent co-parenting.
- Check for understanding
Ask the other person to reflect back his or her understanding of what you've said. Try saying something like, "I want to make sure we're both on the same page. Do you understand where I'm coming from?" This is a non-threatening way to invite the other person to share his or her understanding of what you're saying and make sure that you agree on what steps should come next.
Think of every conflict you face - from minor conflicts with those closest to you to disagreements at work - as an opportunity to put what you're learning about assertiveness into practice. And the more practice you get, the easier it'll be to put this new skill to use when conflicts arise with your ex or your ex's family.
Posted by CoParenting