Four rules to keep co-parenting communication on track

Oh, if only communication was easy! Misunderstandings and misinterpretations can cause so much stress for parents after separation, especially if emotions are running high. The best way to keep co-parenting communication on track is to use the BIFF responseBrief, Informative, Friendly and Firm.

Brief – keep your communication brief
Informative – focus on the simple details, not opinions or emotions
Friendly – use your manners. Start with ‘Hi’, say ‘thanks’ and ‘sign off’
Firm – be clear of a time if you need a response, but be fair

Here are three examples of good BIFF communication when co-parenting your children after divorce. We've used our family Adam and Eve, and children Jack and Jill.


‘Hi Eve, I would like to discuss spring break and see if it's possible to have Jack and Jill for an extra night to take them to the beach. Could you let me know if OK by the end of this week? Cheers Adam’  


‘Hi Adam, Jack is keen to start football with his friend Sam. Here are the details:
• season starts next month
• games are on Saturday mornings from 9 - 11 am
• locations vary around town
• training is Wednesday afternoons at 3:30
• total cost $300
Some parents are keen to car pool to make it easy to get to training. Can you confirm that you're all good with this and in sharing the costs by the end of this week as sign up is required by next Tuesday? If you have any questions, let me know. Thx Eve’


‘Hi Eve, just received a notice from school about head lice in Jill's class. I've attached a copy with their recommended treatment. I've done a treatment tonight, so the next one is due next Thursday when you have them. Let me know if any questions. Cheers Adam’

‘Hi Adam, I just took Jack to the doctor as his cough hasn’t improved. He had an x-ray which identified pneumonia. He’s on a course of antibiotics and I’ve been advised he can’t go back to school for at least a week. Since you’ll have him for four days, I can take an extra day off work to look after him if you can’t take off the whole time. Let me know as soon as possible so I can let work know. Also, the medical costs came to $180 including medicine so could you deposit $90 soon as I’m a bit short this month? Thx Eve’


‘Hi Eve, Jill’s music teacher suggested she’s good enough to attend a music camp in the next school holidays. I haven’t mentioned it to Jill yet as I wanted to discuss with you first. I’ve attached a copy of the form with the details. Since it’s in your week, it’s up to you, but I think she’d love to go. It will cost $300 for three nights and I’m happy to cover half the cost. If you aren’t able to cover the other half immediately, I’m happy to pay the whole amount and you pay me back later. Let me know what you would like to do before Sunday as we have to advise her teacher by Monday. Thx Adam’

DISCUSSING A sensitive issue

‘Hi Adam, I would like to discuss screen time for Jack and Jill. I’m finding they are using every spare moment to play games or watch TV on their phones instead of getting outside, reading or just entertaining themselves. I’ve asked a few other parents to see what they restrict screen time to and some allow up to 1-hour on weekdays and up to 3-hours on weekend days. I’d like to do the same as you so there is consistency between homes so what are your thoughts? I’m happy with 1-hour and 3-hours and to tell them or I can wait until changeover so we can tell them together. Then they know we are in full agreement. Can you let me know? Thx Eve’

‘Hi Eve, I noticed Jack’s huge bruise on his leg which he said he got from falling off his bike. These things happen but next time, so I don’t looked shocked in front of Jack, can you let me know beforehand? That way I can say to Jack ‘I heard you fell of your bike and you’ve got a bumper bruise. Want to show me?’ Thx Adam

If you want help with writing a BIFF message, message us via our Facebook page.

For more information about the BIFF communication method, go to