Avoiding the Pitfalls
Thanks to affordable mobile technology, there has never been a time like now when co-parents and children are quickly and easily accessible. It is easy to see the benefits of such technology: access to children’s events, news, instantly communicating with your family. For co-parents, strategic planning is needed to avoid any of the pitfalls these tools might bring. Text messages, e-mail, photos, videos and social media posts can all be kindling in the fire of misunderstandings. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using these methods to communicate between two homes:
Texting leaves a written record of a conversation. Co-parents are better served keeping the tone of their messages professional. Emotionally loaded messages, without the aid of inflection and body language can be easily be misinterpreted as hostile or rude. Keeping messages short and concise will save time and frustration. Texting with the other parent is for logistics, emergencies, and quick notifications. Additionally, refrain from sending a barrage of texts as they may be considered aggressive. Though email does not have a character-count restriction, apply these same rules when you’re communicating with your co-parent in this way.
When texting with children, keep the message upbeat and factual. Refrain from sending “I miss you”. Instead, text “I can’t wait to see you”, “Have a great weekend”, etc.. Discuss proper texting etiquette with children before issues arise. Both parents should discuss the risks of texting as many children and teens are not aware of the possible consequences of their actions. Be sure to instruct them to never send an inappropriate picture or text to peers.
Keep all phone calls with the other parent professional in tone. Do not record conversations with the other parent or with children. Establish phone policy and procedures in both homes. Both homes could have a “screens off” at 9:00PM policy. Be sure that parents look at any downloaded apps that might be problematic later. Many parents Face time with their children before bed or after dinner so that children are sent the message that the other parent is thinking of them. This is a great device for parents to ask about their child’s day, read aloud, or for children to share accomplishments or concerns about their day.
Social Media Posts
Social media posting can be a landmine in a co-parenting situation. Believing that only friends can see social media posts is unrealistic. Mutual friends can easily screenshot or re-post what you or your children have said, which may not be understood in the way it was meant or written. Be sure to discuss social media protocols with the other parent.
Any account with personal information, no matter how seemingly innocuous, needs to be protected. It is a good idea for both parents to have the pass codes to children’s email and social media accounts and make sure that the security settings are on high.