Picture this, you’re at work, you’re in the middle of a divorce, and you see angry, demanding, disturbing emails and texts from your spouse. Dilema; what to do? Respond? Don’t respond? How to respond? Be apologetic or subservient in response out of fear that your spouse will be even more upset? Respond in the same spirit as your spouse because you’re upset? How will this play on the children? Will our fighting upset our kids? (The answer is “yes” to upsetting the children.)
Help is here! Bill Eddy, Esq., LCSW, Mediator and author of BIFF For Co-Parent Communication. In his book Bill provides examples of return texts, emails, and phone calls that mitigate the intensity and demands of the other spouse. His method BIFF stands for Brief Informative Friendly and Firm. His philosophy is to respond without mirroring the vitriol in the communication that you received; keep your response brief, only providing the facts in short form, with a calm and respectful tone of voice, and sticking to your decision to address whatever the issue is.
The other important element of the BIFF response is timing. You are not obligated to respond immediately unless your children are in danger. In fact, Eddy suggests, it may be wise to wait 24 hours before responding. By waiting, you’ve allowed your head and emotions to calm down, and you aren’t allowing the other co-parent to control your time. If you’re at work, you are committed to working. You’re on your employer’s dime; it’s the employer’s time. Your employer, or your customers, need you to be focused on work, not on your co-parent’s emotional roller coaster. Again, unless the children are in jeopardy.
BIFF For CoParent Communication actually gives examples of what to say for a huge variety of situations. It may be the most important book for you because it will guide you through those pervasive, unsettling communications that can ruin your day and add fuel to a firestorm co-parenting relationship. BIIF can end up being your best friend. I know it’s mine.