In 2013, humans live in an increasingly technologically dependent world, which is not always a horrible thing. Technology allows people to connect and stay connected on opposing poles of the earth, and technology has enabled doctors to treat patients better than ever. But technology is affecting one of the most basic human tools: Communication.
When you stop to think about it, the majority of communication is done without actually meeting face to face. People text each other, use social media to connect, and tweet instead of talk. We can think of one group of people this type of disconnected communication benefits. Divorced parents need all the help they can when communicating with one another, especially if the divorce was a vicious one.
Disconnected Divorce Speak
Emails, texts, instant messages, and online calendars are divorced parents’ saving grace because those tools allow divorced parents to communicate without being present. In a New York Times article from November 2012, the wonders of absent communication via technology are espoused in various examples of divorced parents learning to co-parent without having to see or hear their infuriating ex.
While the tenuous relationship between divorced parents is more than understandable, we would like to point out the flaw in relying solely on technology to communicate with anyone of importance in your life. An ex might not be on your list of best friends, but they are a parent to your child and thus have some importance, especially if you’re in a joint custody situation.
The major flaw in attempting to never engage in a face-to-face conversation with an ex is the negative impact this has on your child. Divorce, even an uncontested divorce, can affect children in various traumatic, psychological ways, but the time after a divorce is just as influential. Purposefully avoiding the ex for as long as possible teaches the child no conflict-resolution skills, immaturity, and poor communication skills.
At some point the end goal should be to maintain a polite relationship with your co-parenting ex. By relying solely on technology to communicate, there is no progress towards any improvement or end goal.
For 6 months to a year after a divorce, feel free to distance yourself as much as you personally need. This may include relying on technology to discuss child-related arrangement and plans, which is a healthy thing to discuss. But the technology-speak must be a starting point, not the status quo.
To combat the poor goal the New York Times article proposes, we would like to propose you take some advice from a Huffington Post article stating co-parenting must include some sort of relationship with the ex. The author, Judith Ruskay, advises to build a different, yet better relationship with your co-parenting ex; this is an idea we can get behind. Marriage may not have been the right relationship to be in with your now ex, but a friendship or even acquaintance might be the right one.
Ruskay’s article includes examples of divorced parents with a strong friendship, but just note this is not the expectation for every family. But if it helps prompt you to start on the path to a civil relationship (even in person) with your ex, think of Ruskay’s point that children fare better when both parents are involved in their lives.