Despite their slightly alarming title, the BIFF guides have provided valuable tips on how to handle difficult communications for the past ten years. The newly published version “BIFF for Coparent Communication” is aimed firmly at the people who are struggling with shared parenting in the aftermath of separation or divorce. It is a guide to dealing with difficult coparent texts, emails and social media posts.
BIFF stands for BRIEF, INFORMATIVE, FRIENDLY and FIRM. In the preface co-author Bill Eddy describes how this acronym was developed out of a training session he was giving to lawyers, mediators and judges. He had already introduced EAR Statements – a calm way of responding to someone who is angry or upset. EAR stands for Empathy, Attention and Respect. One of the judges mentioned the awful emails that some parents send to each other then file in court, each pointing the finger at the other one.
Bill responded by saying that, in his experience, such communications need to be Brief and just contain Information, not opinion or emotion. He also suggested that they should be Friendly, sayimg something like “have a good weekend”. That produced BIF. The final “F” to form the complete word was suggested as Firm, attempting to end the discussion without giving the other person a hook to respond.
This new book covers techniques for starting coparenting conversations as well as responses to hostile emails, texts and other communications. It presents examples of hostile or misinfomed communications followed by examples of negative (but tempting) responses, and then a positive BIFF example.
Chapters cover education, healthcare, activities, finances, changes to plans and schedules and social media. A fascinating appendix discusses what to tell the children about a high conflict parent, outlining ways in which you can protect your children from the blaming and uncontrolled behaviour of the high-conflict parent while also providing them with coping skills and helping them not to blame themselves.
Shared Parenting Scotland has been mentioning the previous BIFF books for some time. This new version seems even more relevant to the parents who contact us. BIFF is published by the High Conflict Institute which also holds a wide range of online parenting training. We are trying to arrange for Scottish parents to have access to the online training programmes from the High Conflict Institute, which include discussion and practice with BIFF techniques alongside lots of other useful information for separated parents – more news on this soon.2 likes