The holidays can be a very special time for children, and parents too, but it can be very difficult to plan for after the breakdown of the family unit. It is important to remember that while the holidays may have traditionally involved a different family unit, separated parents can still ensure it remains a special time for all parties, especially the children.
One of the strongest ways to ensure a happy holiday is for parents to focus their efforts on prioritizing the best interests of the children and work to co-parent as effectively as possible. During this busy time of year one of the biggest hurdles of effective co-parenting is poor communication.
Effective communication between separated parents can work wonders. It can reduce conflict while parenting apart, assist in ensuring the children don’t get stuck in the middle of disputes and make all parties lives easier and less stressful overall. The holidays can be stressful enough and any added stress that can be avoided is in everyone’s best interests.
A few tips for effective communication for separated or divorced parents include:
Remain calm during arguments; communicate assertively but not aggressively.
Attempt to actively listen to the other side; fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.
Seek solutions instead of arguments; look first for a solution that minimizes an effect on the children.
While tips on improving communication may be easier said than done, the effort you put in can be worth it. Better communication skills can not only effectively reduce ongoing conflict, but it will work to improve long term outcomes involving you and your children.
For those looking for a great program to assist with effective communication between separated or divorced parents, Alberta Justice, Family Justice Services offers a free 6 hour class for those with children 0-6 years of age called FOCIS (Focus on Communication in Separation). Parents enrolled in FOCIS can attend separate groups so each parent has a safe place to learn and practice new skills. You may contact the program yourself, or a family court counsellor, a mediator, a lawyer, or the Court can refer you. To find locations and contact information go to: https://albertacourts.ca/resolution-and-court-administration-serv/family-justice-services/educational-services#FOCIS