How do I talk to my children’s other parent
about things that annoy me?
It can be tricky to talk to your children’s other parent, about things that bother you (about their parenting). Lots of families have this question and it’s something we discuss a lot in the Superstar Co-Parenting Program, my 1-1 coaching program. When I am asked “how do I talk to my children’s other parent about things that annoy me”, it’s important to remember a couple of things. While your children are in the care of their other parent, that parent has responsibility for making decisions about their day-to-day needs.
What are day-to-day needs?
Unlike the issues that fall under parental responsibility – schooling, living location, name, religion and big health decisions – day-to-day needs are things like what food your children will eat, what sport they might play, who they interact with and how they spend their time.
So how do you talk to your children’s other parent when you’re really upset?
Some issues need to be kept in context – was that waterfall your 5yo was climbing really as high as it looked in the picture on Facebook? Is having a varied, nutritionally balanced vegan diet in one home really going to affect them? Some things might really bug you. Maybe you’ve called for your regular phone contact and your kids are drinking pepsi or your tween is having a coffee. What should or can you do about it?
This is what I teach in my co-parenting workshop:
1. If you bring it up, are things likely to change for the better?
2. Will the communication be respectful and worthwhile?
3. Would you feel ok being asked questions about this if the situation were reversed?
If you answer ‘no’ to any of these 3 Question’s, just follow the Frozen song and ‘let it go’ ….
If it will just create conflict, not change anything and you would think it petty or unimportant if they discussed it with you, walk away.
This is a difficult skill to master. The ability to realise there is no way you can affect change, and just let it go for your own and your child’s mental health is invaluable. It takes practice. It might require you to have a planned and thought out response so you can ‘reset’ your body from it’s heightened state of stress.
The easiest way to ‘reset’ is just to take a couple of deep breaths and exhale slowly. Your body gets a hit of oxygen and your mind will start to clear. The anxiety and anger will begin to dissipate. You don’t need to talk to your children’s other parent about everything or even all the things that upset you.
There’s a saying : ‘perfect practice makes perfect’. But it’s not accurate. Perfect practice makes perfect. There’s actually no need to be a perfect parent or a perfect co-parenting. In fact, there’s no such thing!