A recent study by the University of Missouri found that communicative devices such as cell phones and email have both helpful and harmful impacts when it comes to co-parenting following a divorce.

The study, which was led by Lawrence Ganong and Marilyn Coleman, examined how divorced parents used communicative technologies to manage their co-parenting obligations.  The report focused on a group of 49 parents and produced a wide variety of results.

Results of the Study

The study found that parents who have a good relationship with their ex used communicative technology to stay informed about upcoming obligations.  Researchers found that parents used email reminders and text messages to inform each other about meetings, birthday parties, practice schedules, etc.

On the other hand, parents who did not have a good relationship with their ex said that communicative technology did not improve their co-parenting situation.  In fact, the technology sometimes led to abuse or harassment.  Researchers found that parents in these relationships used communicative technology to limit the amount of information the other parent had, or to annoy their ex by calling or emailing five or more times a day.

Although the technology has benefits and drawbacks, researchers found that communicating through emails can reduce hostility, as it gives parents a chance to think through their thoughts before sending.  Phone communication can escalate quickly and lead parents to say things out of anger, but sending an email gives them a chance to gather their thoughts and explain their concerns.

Researchers concluded that although communication technologies can help or hinder the co-parenting process, they play a very small role in maintaining a healthy co-parenting lifestyle.  Working with your ex to limit conflict can greatly affect children’s adjustment post-divorce, which is something both parents should strive for.

Kathryn Lammers Comments

Communicating via email and websites designed for high conflict co-parenting can reduce stress between the two parties and provide a paper trial for communications.  We offer Our Family Wizard, which allows parents to communicate and coordinate parenting time, events, and other issues that may arise. The information in Our Family Wizard is documented and admissible in court, which usually helps keep the conversation civil.

While open communication is good following a divorce, texting is immediate and does not allow for a parent to process his or her thoughts before sending an immediate message.  Tone is also lost on electronic communication.  “Parenting by text message” for certain parents ratchets up the conflict and has the opposite of the intended effect of reducing conflict.  If electronic communication is necessary, email or Our Family Wizard is usually a better route.

Related source:  Huffington Post