When first beginning to co-parent, it’s often difficult to figure out how much information to share with the other parent. People often want to explain their reasons for doing something, in an attempt to soften a request for an exchange of time or to try to get their way on an issue. Sometimes, however, including too much information can lead to more difficulties and more stress than simply stating the facts.
For example, when wanting to ask for an exchange of weekends, it would probably be a mistake to “plead your case” by telling the other parent, “I know you are probably not going to want to do this, but my girlfriend’s family is having a barbeque and I would really like the kids to go, even though it’s on your Sunday afternoon. I know you don’t like her but she’s a part of my life now and you are just going to have to get used to that now that we are not married.” Putting all that in an email or a text to your ex is likely to make the other parent feel angry and defensive. An alternative that simply states the facts and is emotion-neutral could be, “I would like to take the kids to a barbeque next Sunday. It’s from 1-4 p.m. with my girlfriend’s family and their extended relatives who are in from out of town. I’m happy to exchange another day with you so that you don’t lose any time with the kids.” This proposal gives the facts and offers a solution, without creating unnecessary drama.
It’s important that your communication with your ex be cordial and respectful, both because you want to provide your children with two supportive homes, and because anything you put in writing now may come back to see you in a subsequent court appearance if one or both of you go back to court.