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Parents need to communicate about parenting. When problems arise, the first impulse may be to blame the other parent. Anger and blaming are barriers that interfere with communication. Communication requires special skills and compromise. When there is a problem, parents need a plan.

First, ask yourself:

Is this a child-related problem? Bringing up problems that have to do with marriage or divorce issues of the parents is not part of the business of parenting.

Does this problem have to do with the children's health, education or time-sharing?

Divorced parents may have to limit discussions to these three topics.
 
Is a change in the time-sharing schedule convenient for me only, or does it accommodate the other parent or the children?

Can the problem wait or does it need to be discussed as soon as possible?

Make a list of the issues to be discussed and your proposals. Let it sit for a few days to see if you have any changes or need more information before arranging a meeting.

When Parents Meet for Problem Solving:

  • Arrange a time and place that is convenient for both parents.
  • Limit discussion time to 30 minutes. When discussion time goes longer, emotions may get out of hand.
  • Only cover a few issues in one session. Start with the easy problems and move on to the more difficult.
  • Be specific about what you mean. Set ground rules that there will be no personal attacks or name-calling.
  • If you disagree, look for ways that each parent can give a little.
  • Write down any agreements you make and make sure that each of you has a copy.
  • Once a decision is made, put it away and don't try to re-think it.

 SMILE Handbook

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