As a promoter of positive co-parenting relationships, I strongly believe that even if you did not succeed as a married couple, you can still co-parent effectively post-divorce.
Sometimes, that takes different tools for different people. Much to my dismay, my ex-husband and I have some tension in co-parenting. We simply do not communicate well and we have never been able to correct that. So, I started looking for new tools. Joryn suggested Our Family Wizard to me and, to my surprise and relief, my ex-husband agreed to try it.
Because our communication has been so challenging, the telephone is out, unless it’s an emergency. My ex and I need something in writing so that we can reference agreements we have reached. Initially, we turned to text messaging, but there were multiple conversations between us at any one time and they were difficult to reference in the future. Email solved some of these problems, but it was not as effective as a quick text message and was easily ignored.
So, we turned to Our Family Wizard.
At around $100 a year, it is worth making our communications more efficient and limited. Knowing that these messages can be admitted in the event that a court proceeding becomes necessary is helpful because we, in theory, are more cognizant of the words we choose to communicate with each other.
One feature I am fond of is the tone meter. It tracks “trigger words” and, through an increasing number of bars, will inform you if you have used these trigger words in your message. It helps me to reword my communications that I might not otherwise have recognized would trigger a negative reaction from my ex. Let’s face it; I may not mean something to sound negative, but everyone knows that a lot can be lost through or read into a curt little text message.
Another feature I love is the read receipt. I can see if and when my ex read the message. If necessary, it also shows the court this information. For example, I can tell my ex-husband when a doctor appointment is scheduled and there is no need for him to confirm it; I can see that he received that information. I can also see if he has not read something. If that something is time sensitive, then it may warrant a phone call.
These two features alone have made Our Family Wizard a valuable tool in my co-parenting relationship.
Just recently, it came in handy. In July (last year), my ex-husband asked me to agree to switch my daughter’s birthday weekend, which was the next April, so that he could throw her a party with his family. I agreed to switch, but not for the weekend he originally requested, because that was a three-day weekend with the Easter holiday, and I did not know what our plans would be. A couple of nights before the weekend in question, he made a reference to the “Easter switch.” It very quickly came to light that he had calendared the switch for Easter weekend, even though I had told him “no,” and had scheduled her party for the day before.
When I pointed out that this was not the switch I had agreed to, he was adamant that I was incorrect. With a quick search, I was able to locate our discussion and show him that I had suggested an alternate weekend and that he had agreed to it. Of course, because he had already planned the party, I accommodated him. All’s well that ends well.
However, had the whole switch been something that we had verbally agreed to, it could easily have snowballed into an argument over who was actually wrong and who did what on purpose, an all-out DEFCON 1 that would have ensured we never agreed to a switch again. It sounds very dramatic, but it is surprisingly easy to escalate there.
There are other features that we do not utilize that may be helpful to other families, depending on their individual dynamics. Some of these features include a shared information bank, an expense log, and a calendar. And, although we have no need to use these features currently, it is nice to know the option is available as our kids get older. Ultimately, since we have started using Our Family Wizard, the tension in our communications has diminished and the stress in our lives has been reduced.
Our Family Wizard is a very valuable tool.
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About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.