Talking to each other about your children
Communicating with your child's other parent may be hard, but getting things right for your children is vital.
"It wasn't so bad. It reminded me we used to talk a lot about all kinds of things. It's easier now when we do see each other."
Are you ready to talk to each other?
Matters to do with your children naturally stir up strong emotions, and especially if you're still trying to come to terms with your separation from your partner.
Talking to a family mediator, counsellor or family law solicitor could help you get into the right frame of mind and avoid further arguments.
Before you get started, consider calling one of the support organisations listed at the rear of this booklet to chat through how you're feeling and what you want to achieve.
Whenever you talk to each other:
- Communicate directly with your child's other parent – don't send messages through your children.
- Try to stay calm – sit comfortably, relax your shoulders, deliberately try to breathe more slowly and deeply.
- Even when you can't agree, be respectful and respect one another's views.
- Learn to listen well and you'll be more likely to be listened
- concentrate fully on what they're saying, rather than what you'll say next.
- don't interrupt. - try not to jump into their pauses
- leave them time to think.
- allow them to finish speaking fully before you respond
- leave a pause after you think they've finished.
- Before responding:
- think carefully about what's been said and what you'll say next.
- if you're unsure, check you've understood what's been said and what they've meant.
- Don't make demands that can't possibly be met.
- Stick to the point in hand and tackle one issue at a time.
- Use 'I' statements ( e.g. "I think" or "I feel") to help the other parent understand your position.
- Beware of "you" statements and generalisations ( e.g. "you always do/say/think such-and-such") – they tend to come across as confrontational.
- Be ready to compromise but be clear and honest about things that are important to you.
- If things become heated, take a break – you don't need to do this all at once.
- If things become very difficult or upsetting, agree another time when you can work on this.
- Try to record any agreements you've already reached before you stop the session.
- Recognise that circumstances will change over time and be flexible.
- Once you've come to an agreement with your child's other parent, do your best to stick to it.
To request a hard copy of this publication, email YourParentingPlan@gov.scot