Divorce is hard, and many times when parents get divorced the last thing they want to do is talk to the other spouse. When there are kids involved though, that isn’t an option. Even so, sometimes the anger and the hurt and the emotions are so overwhelming that even parents refuse to talk to one another. Maybe every conversation turns into a fight, or maybe they just can’t stand to be in the room with the other person. Whatever the reason, when parents refuse to talk it is generally the kids who get hurt the most. So, what can you do if your parents refuse to even talk to one another?
What you SHOULDN’T do if your parents aren’t talking
One of the most important things you should do is know those thing you shouldn’t have to do if your parents aren’t speaking:
- Don’t be their messenger. You are their child not a delivery service and not a messenger service. If your parents refuse to talk to one another and ask you to deliver messages, politely and respectfully explain that you would rather not do that because it makes you uncomfortable, and ask them to find some other way to communicate with one another (see suggestions below).
- Don’t take sides. Your parents won’t always make the best choices, and when they are angry or fighting, they may be tempted to try to sway you to “take their side” against the other parent. The fact of the matter is, you are free to love both of your parents, and they should respect that decision.
- Don’t try to play counselor. If your parents need to find someone to help them get along better, they need to find an adult who is removed from the situation. That’s not your job, nor should you try to fill that role.
- Don’t use it to your advantage. You may be tempted to use the fact that your parents aren’t talking to get your own way or to get one parent to agree to things the other has already said no too. This isn’t fair to your parents, and it will likely come back to haunt you.
- Don’t take it personally. Even if your parents are fighting about things related to you (visitation, child support, etc.), it is not your fault that they are fighting. Don’t feel guilty about it.
Here are some things you can try:
- Talk to your parents. Let them know how their fighting/arguing all the time affects you. Explain how hard it is on you when they won’t talk. Show them how hard it is for you to keep track of schedules, etc. without their input. Let them know it’s hurting you that they can’t even be in the same room together and ask them to try harder for your sake.
- Talk to a family friend (of both your mom and dad) or an aunt, uncle or grandparent who gets along with both of your parents. Explain the situation you’re in, and ask them if they would be willing to pass messages between your mom and dad so you don’t have to.
- Help your parents find ways of communicating that don’t involved speaking to one another. Sometimes when people are hurt, the tone of the conversation makes it hard for one or both people to stay civil. If you can take the spoken word out of the conversation, it may help the situation and eventually lead to your parents being able to talk to each other again. Suggest that they e-mail one another (even if they need to set up new e-mail accounts for just that purpose).
- Suggest alternatives for your parents. These days there are online solutions that help parents communicate, schedule and all kinds of things without arguing and fighting in person. Tools like Our Family Wizard and Cofamilies.com help parents continue to both be involved in raising the kids without having to interact in person with one another. It’s not the perfect solution, but it might be a good first step. And, it’s something you can suggest your parents check out.