Depending on your parenting agreement (and probably the age of your kid), you may have a regular schedule for communication between your ex and your kid. You may also have received input from a therapist or parenting coordinator for building some regularity and consistency into that communication.
For a time, my son (in kindergarten at the time) and my ex spoke via Skype every day at 6pm. Because of certain technological constraints, we had to be at the house each day at the appointed time – not always an easy or convenient task. But it came at a crucial time where the regular vocal and visual connection made a difference. I do not have scientific data or double-blind placebo tests to prove anything, but I know my son benefited from the time with his mom.
Fast forward a few years and my son and my ex communicate differently. Between FaceTime on his iPad, texting on his iPad, and phone calls with my phone – they find their own groove.
What advice would I give you with respect to facilitating communication between your kid and your ex?
Assuming there is no legal or therapeutic guidance to restrict communication, here are three thoughts:
Never force your kid to speak to mom. While your intention to ensure keeping to a schedule promotes consistency, your kid may have the occasional off-day. If you force conversation, it could make it seem like a punishment. Instead, you may try informing your ex about the circumstance and also encourage your child to send a text message, pose for a picture you could send her, or write a note/draw a picture you could scan and email. You will know if your kid uses this as manipulation, but my recollection is my son had the occasional day he just did not want to talk and did not make it a habit.
Remind your kid to reach out to mom. As kids age they get caught up with friends, homework, hobbies, and any number of distractions. Make a point to ask if they’ve spoken or texted with mom lately. Not only does this promote connectedness between mom and kid, but it also communicates you care about their relationship.
Do not eavesdrop. Many court-ordered parenting agreements already require privacy, but sometimes, with mobile devices and the normal course of walking through the house to do everything you have to do, you will hear parts and pieces of the conversation between kid and mom. Do your best to minimize and give them privacy.
You have been given the gift of custody of your kids, and the emotion linked to your ex can be strong. I encourage you to take a step back from those emotions and make sure you appropriately nurture as positive a relationship between kid and mom as possible – I believe your kid will benefit. I have seen it in my son. If you have a question about it, ask a counselor, parenting coordinator, or your lawyer. It never hurts to get a second opinion from a neutral party.
What suggestions do you have to promote healthy communication between your kid and your ex?