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Putting boundaries on communication when co-parenting

There are more ways than ever to communicate with other people: calling, emailing, texting, instant messaging, writing on their wall, tagging them in a photo and even the old-fashioned way of mailing them a letter. And no one is more savvy in modes of communication than kids.

With all the ways to communicate, chances are your child can reach out and talk to his or her other parent whenever he or she wants. This can present problems if you are a mom or dad who co-parents, as communication with the other parent can disrupt your time with your child and be considered interference with parenting time. For this reason, it can be crucial to establish some boundaries on communication.

There are a few ways you can do this.

  1. Address communication restrictions in a parenting plan. You don't want to put the pressure of limiting communication with your child. Instead, you can work together as parents to set and then enforce the limits.
  2. Set age-appropriate boundaries. Younger kids might feel scared, sad or lonely when they go between Mom and Dad. Letting them call the other parent when they feel this way can help alleviate these feelings. However, you don't have to set a routine where the other parent calls every night at bedtime. This could be considered disruptive of your time.
  3. Consider limiting type or times of communication. It can be very upsetting to sit at dinner with your teen while he or she video chats with the other parent. Or to watch your young child text the other parent whenever you say no to something he or she wants. To avoid this, you could consider setting official times for video chats, or saying that texting should only be done in certain situations.

You don't need to ban communication to protect your parenting time, especially because doing this could ultimately hurt your relationship with your child and cause him or her great anxiety.

Instead, you can make rules in your parenting plan and with your child that account for the realities of communication. With some guidance and boundaries, you and your kids can stay in touch without interfering with the other parent's parenting time. 

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