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11/02/2018 13:44 EDT | Updated 11/02/2018 13:45 EDT

Using A New Language With Your Co-Parent Will Lead To Happier Kids

Choosing to adopt a new language helps pave the way to healthy and positive conversations that will create a ripple effect for the entire family.

A key step toward co-parenting in harmony is adopting a new language with your co-parent for effective communication that is parenting-only.

Start by recognizing that co-parenting is child-focused and aimed at them having both parents securely in their lives as heroes and role models. Your new language must be focused on the children needs only to express what really needs to be conveyed.

Think back. As intimate partners, the love language was automatically understood in your voice and behaviour. As divorced parents, that language is perceived as hurtful, resentful, revengeful and mainly received with resistance.

This is why co-parents must adopt a new language that gives all parties the ability to refocus their lens on co-parenting. As you move forward, remember that being kind to your child's other parent is much easier than always being angry and miserable.

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Starting with a clean slate and building new language habits will go a long way toward ending the adversarial win-or-lose approach and creating a healthy environment for your children.

As a co-parenting coach, I feel it's essential to adopt a new language in order to strengthen your co-parenting relationship and keep your children's best interests front of mind. Here are a few steps you can take toward this goal.

1. Drop the term "my ex" in favour of "my child's mom/dad" or "my child's mother/father." This simple change allows you some emotional detachment from your previous spouse-partner relationship, and empowers you to move into a more effective and less emotional parent-partner mindset.

2. Avoid phrases like "you should," "you always" and "you never." These put you in a blaming or angry mode. Instead, use "I" phrases. This leads to healthy dialogue, mutual respect and a dynamic wherein you communicate with your child's other parent, not your former spouse.

3. When speaking to your co-parent, always say "our daughter/son." This focuses the responsibility on the parents' dual roles and not only on one parent.

4. When speaking to your child about extracurricular activities or time spent with their other parent, say "at mom's/dad's home." This models respect towards your child's parent and your child will model the same respect.

You are both doing this for your child's best interest.

5. A "thank you" or "yes, of course" generates goodwill. A simple act of generosity can turn a difficult situation into a reminder that you're actually on the same team when it comes to your child's well-being.

6. If there's a change in schedule, feel free to answer, "Sure, happy to do that", "Mo, sorry that doesn't work for me" or "Will it work for you to swap the day or weekend?" This promotes flexibility and compromise in that both co-parents give a little. It's also a reminder that you are both doing this for your child's best interest.

7. When receiving a text message or email, kindly respond with "got it" or "will get back to you shortly" and be specific about when you will get back to them. This is a simple act of kindness that goes a long way and will create a positive ripple effect. It also prevents being an avoider, which will create resistance.

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8. If there's a specific problem with your child at school or with friends and family, avoid placing blame onto the other parent. Instead, ask, "What do you think about the situation?" Brainstorm solutions together, respectfully.

9. When speaking to your child about something that requires joint decisions, say, "Your mom/dad and I." This helps your child know that there are many areas of their life that you and your co-parent continue to share. It benefits your child to be regularly reminded that they still have two active parents involved in their life.

Choosing to adopt a new language helps pave the way to healthy and positive conversations that will create a ripple effect for the entire family, and help you establish a pleasant environment of co-parenting in harmony.

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