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Acquaintance or Business Relationship

  • No assumptions

  • Formal courtesies

  • Public and Structured Meetings

  • Explicit agreements, contracts

  • Little Confrontation, low risk, low emotional intensity

  • High personal privacy, low personal disclosure


  • Watch your language and refer to the other parent as the child's mother/father. This places the focus where it belongs--on the parenting role.

  • Practice common courtesy.

  • Act like a guest in the other parent's home; wait to be invited in; don't wander around the house.

  • Your time with the children is just that--your own private time with the children, not "baby-sitting time" or "dead time".

  • Give the other person the privacy and help yourself to privacy - stop asking/answering personal questions; keep personal life to yourself.

  • Don't expect praise from the other parent--it's hard to come by in the early stages of this business relationship; look to friends and family or support groups for support or appreciation.

  • Be detailed and don't assume the other parent will know when or where to pick up or return the child or what time school is. Give time, place and specifics.

  • Expect to feel strange about the new relationship at first. Control the urge to "tell him/her off." the emotion may be there but give it time to cool. There may be a mismatch between your feelings and actions; for example: "I want to tell him/her off, but I'm courteous and businesslike."


Guidelines to Help Diminish Conflict

  1. Your mutual concern is the rearing of your children. Be businesslike. Be polite. Do not use bad language or name call. Do not try to conduct business under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. If you feel yourself getting un business like, say so and agree to resume the conversation at a later time.

  2. Do not discuss any issues with the other parent in the presence of the children; limit your conversation when the children are exchanged to a simple "hello" and "good-bye."

  3. Any phone calls about the children should be limited to only that topic; tell the other parent in advance whether you are calling to discuss the children or some other issue.

  4. Do not send messages for the other parent through your child; talk to the other parent directly, by phone or by mail if necessary.

  5. Be very clear with each other about your plans for time with the children. Include specific dates and times. Do not change any plans without first calling or discussing the proposed change with the other parent in advance.

  6. To be sure each parent has the same information, follow up the discussion of an arrangement or agreement in writing and send a copy to the other parent.

  7. Talk together to teachers, doctors, and other involved professionals together to help resolve differences of opinion about what is best for your children.

  8. Each parent is responsible for their children's daily care when they are with them. Certainly, it is important for parents to consult with each other regarding any changes in the child's education al and medical care, in advance of the change.

  9. Above all, cultivate good will in the partnership of raising your children. Keep in mind the importance of your investment and expected returns. The investment is what you are willing to do for your children's happiness and success in life. The returns are comfort and security for your children, and the knowledge their parents care enough about them to make their life free of conflict.


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