Communicating in Meetings

How you conduct yourself in meetings demonstrates what your children have to deal with.

General Guidelines

  1. Stay out of the past – We want to avert future problems, not assign blame for past problems.
  2. Focus on the parent relationship (i.e., the children) not the ex-partner relationship.
  3. Bring difficult issues / problems to the meeting so that we can resolve them. Disagreements are OK and are expected – how they are expressed determines their usefulness. Don’t trash the other parent for doing the same or s/he will stop, and then the problems can not be corrected.
  4. If it’s important to one parent, it’s important (whether you agree or not).
  5. Hunt for areas of agreement that can be shared with the children.
  6. Arguing accomplishes nothing and is a waste of everyone’s time.

Manage Your Behavior

  • Don’t respond to inappropriate behavior – (i.e., by defending yourself, making counter-accusations, ‘clarifying’ details, or characterizing the other parent). If you respond, there are two unreasonable people in the room, neither one of which can be heard.
  • Don’t stop or correct the other parent (if you do, I don’t have a chance to see their thought process).
  • Don’t monopolize meetings – Let the other parent say whatever is on his/her mind.

Use Good Communication Skills


  • Speak slowly and calmly.
  • Don’t interrupt. Let the other parent speak.


  • Avoid critical language – Judgmental, accusatory, sarcastic, pejorative remarks are inflammatory, distracting, and a waste of meeting time.
  • Use “I” statements (not “you” statements). Say how you feel rather than characterizing the other parent’s behavior.
  • Don’t accuse – instead, ask.
  • Avoid superlatives, e.g., “always”, “never”, etc.


  • Stay on topic – i.e., stick to the issue, no “kitchen sink.”
  • Don’t characterize or speak for the other person or attribute thoughts or emotions to him/her.
  • Present interests (not positions).


  • Maintain eye contact with the other parent (speak TO him/her; LISTEN to him/her).