How to have a quality co-parenting relationship? Communication tips

This entry is a continuation of the post on April 30, 2014, regarding both parents having a quality co-parenting relationship.

Let’s discuss communication options. In co-parent relationships where there is high conflict, I recommend a simple formula for communication. Brief. Informative. Friendly. Firm. BIFF. This model is from Bill Eddy ( This formula applies to both verbal and written communication. Long, defensive, and accusatory emails will not likely get you what you want nor will they help your children. Expecting the other person to know what you need or want also does not usually work. Here’s an example of a non-BIFF email.
“I can’t believe that you sent our daughter to school without her homework done AGAIN. Can’t you ever get this right? What is so hard about sitting down with her to go through her homework from that day and ensuring she does it? Clearly you need to improve your parenting or she is going to fail grade three! This reminds me of all the times you shirked your duties with our older son as well. I’m sure you’ve got lots of time to spend with your new spouse and step-children, how about giving the same attention to your own daughter…[this goes on for a page of venting]”

Now, here’s the BIFF version.
“I’m concerned about our daughter’s school performance. Her last report card said that she was frequently missing assignments and the teacher called me last week to say she missed another two assignments. I’d like to talk about how we can support her together to get her homework done. I know you’re also interested in her doing well at school. I’d like to share the responsibility for helping her with her homework with you. What do you think about that?”

Why negotiate?

This is Conflict Resolution week in BC and I will be posting several blogs over the week highlighting some conflict resolution themes from my work as a mediator.  Here is my first entry. In any dispute, there are alternatives to negotiating.  According to Fisher an d Ury (1991) there are best (BATNA) and worst (WATNA) […]

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Trust in Conflict Resolution

In my work as a conflict resolution practitioner and mediator, lack of trust is often present at the time I get involved.  My colleague, Gordon White, has some thought-provoking words about what trust within conflict means.  Gordon explains trust as having “five faces”: predictability, integrity, competence, caring, and vulnerability.  I encourage you to read the […]

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How can both parents have quality parenting relationships with their children?

During and after your divorce, you may be wondering if it will ever be possible for both you and your spouse to have a productive co-parenting relationship.  Many parents struggle with this.  Your lack of hope may be based on your beliefs about your former spouse, negative incidents that happened, or behaviour challenges you are […]

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Top Ten Traps to Avoid when Planning for Aging Family Members – #2

Continuing on the avoidance theme, many families have certain topics or feelings which are hard to talk about.  Some family members may have trouble being openly sad or talking about sadness and grief.  Think about what topics and feelings are not talked about in your family as a guide to the emotions which may be […]

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