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One mistake that people make when contacting a parenting consultant is that because they use the phone or email, they behave in ways they would never behave face to face. If you are communicating in a way that you would never communicate at work, you need to pull it back and stay professional.
If you have already let that Genie out of the bottle, now would be a good time to make a fresh start. You could do that by sending an email to both the parenting consultant and your ex and without apologizing, write that you have not been communicating effectively and you are informing them that you will be sending more direct emails from this point forward.
Once you have taken this step, consider it a fresh start. Resolve to only send professional emails. Make sure all emails are necessary and directly inform the reader of things they need to know or are written as a direct request. Complaints and written arguing are not helpful to you, your case or your children and offer nothing in the way of co parenting.
I realize as I write this that many of you are thinking, “but my ex doesn’t…” “there is no one co parenting with me…” “the parenting consultant ignores all my emails…” and things of that nature. Even if all of these things are true, you are not doing this for your ex or your parenting consultant. You are doing this for you and your children. If no one reads the emails, so be it, at least you have done your best and will not have written anything that can be used against you in a court proceeding. This is especially important if you use Our Family Wizard.
Suppose that an issue has come up. You have a family event that is very important and you’d like to have the children there, but it falls on the weekend the children will be with the other parent. First, and this should always be first, email the other parent. If you and the other parent fight all the time there is no point in making a phone call. A phone call is harder to demonstrate the communication exchange. Email shows that you contacted the other parent, what date and what time you did so, and may show if there was any communication back. In Our Family Wizard it will show if you were answered or not, but in personal email exchanges it may be harder to prove that there was no reply. If the other parent has responded with a denial or you have waited for a week or so and received no reply, now is the time to contact the parenting consultant.
Parenting consultants do not read all of the emails between parents on our family wizard. They can look on anytime they want, but most do not have the time to do this and will only do so when the need arises. For this reason, you must be clear that you want the parenting consultant not only to read the email, but also to make a decision on the matter. Keep all emotion out of this email. Keep all blame and whining out of this email. By the way, do not send repeat emails to the other parent demanding a reply. Whatever the reason they did not reply, they had ample time to do so. Now is the time to allow the parenting consultant to do the job they have been appointed to do.
Write a business like email to the parenting consultant. In the subject line, write in Capital letters: PLEASE READ, PARENTING CONSULTANT DECISION REQUESTED. This will make the email stand out from the others. Don’t abuse this. If you start writing this on every email, then they may start to ignore all of them. Make sure to CC the other parent so they know that you tried to communicate with them, but now are going to the parenting consultant. In the body of your email write only the facts. For example:
Dear Parenting Consultant,
My family is having a family reunion out-of-town on Saturday, June 23, 2012. Several relatives from far away will be attending. This is a rare opportunity for the children to spend time with our extended family. The weekend of June 23rd falls on a weekend that the children are scheduled to be with their Dad/Mom. I did email Dad/Mom to ask for a scheduling change so that the children could attend the family reunion with me on June 23rd. I did offer to exchange weekends so that Mom/Dad could have the 2 weekends prior to the 23rd, but Mom/Dad refused/Mom/Dad has not responded to my email from one week ago.
I am asking you to make a decision regarding a parenting time change for the weekend of the 23rd. Please read the email with the subject “Family Reunion” that I sent to Mom/Dad. Because I am trying to make arrangements for traveling and accommodations, I would appreciate it if you could give a written decision within the next 10 days.
Please call me if you need more information. The best phone/time is 555-5555 in the afternoon.
The above email is direct both in what has occurred and what exactly it is that you’d like the parenting consultant to do. There is no blame in that email and you come across as cooperative and available for contact. It is child focused and reasonable. The fact that you have CC’d the ex, may prompt a response from them. If so, cool. It is always better to work things out yourself and you can always email the parenting consultant to tell them you reached an agreement on your own and their assistance is no longer needed. If they still don’t reply, fine. You don’t need them now. If they answer and come across as very negative, they look bad. The odds are in your favor. It might be a good idea to call the parenting consultant immediately after you send the email to let them know to look for it and what the subject line is so they can easily find it, usually you will be leaving a voicemail message. If on rare occasion they answer, stay professional on the phone.
Next, wait the 10 days and if you have not heard from the parenting consultant, leave another re
minder message. This time ask for a return call to let you know when you can expect a decision. Hopefully, they will let you know and if they have not had time for your issue, they will take the time now.
Parenting consultants often have several families (I have heard of one who has 60 families emailing during the Thanksgiving through New Years period, when tensions run high). If your decision is a few months down the road, they may have more pressing matters to attend to with other families. Keep these things in mind, but don’t allow the parenting consultant put off your decision until the last-minute. Remind him/her that you have to make travel and accommodations plans and would prefer to wait for the decision, but cannot wait indefinitely.
If you feel that you have waited too long or a decision, now would be a good time to contact your attorney. Maybe they can light a fire under her or advise you what to do next.
If you feel that you need to make reservations, do so. When the parenting consultant finally does contact you, let him/her know that you went ahead with reservations because of the time sensitive nature of the trip. Do not blame him/her for taking to long and do not sound sarcastic. State this information in a matter of fact way. If the parenting consultant asks for more information, ie: can you cancel the reservations without cost, etc., answer him/her honestly.
A good thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to plan what will make your ex cooperate. People often start anticipating a “deal” for their ex to get the decision they want and come up with several different ideas. This usually is not necessary, can just anger you and can muddy the waters. If your ex is not open to any deals, this is where things will escalate. Besides, it is not up to you to figure out what Mom/Dad wants in exchange and it can come across as controlling. If you and your ex are like oil and water, whatever deal you plan will be shot down. They won’t want it because it is your idea. Let your ex ask for what he wants in exchange and the parenting consultant can let you know what that is and also can decide if he/she should have it.
Sometimes, you may get what you want without giving up anything in return. Remember that. Your ex may be very unreasonable at which point the parenting consultant may decide to give you the weekend that you want as an extra weekend. Allow things to unfold as they will on their own. You may be surprised at the results.