Getting started, Need some help, Tips & Lists

Co-parenting in Modern Life: Beware of Emojis

Like in the spoken world, people have different aptitudes for communicating via text and that can be problematic especially in co-parenting relationships.
(2 min 28 sec read)

Dave Chartier
A single co-parenting dad, a freelance writer and former syndicated dad blogger with work published in USA Today, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Emojis are not a universal language.

They first started showing up on Japanese phones in the 90’s. Designed to add nuance and ‘color’ to an otherwise dry text messaging platform, the emoji character map is inherently Japanese by design which shows how cultural norms may reveal misinterpretation. Throw snark and sarcasm into the mix and the gray area of misinterpretation grows more. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ 

Much like in the spoken world people have different aptitudes for communicating via text. You may notice some people are particularly good at expressing nuance via text with well-paired words and emojis. Their ‘voice’ and character shines through particularly well, while others are -let’s say- are a bit more straightforward, edging to crude or rough around the edges -lacking grammar and detail or relying on a hieroglyphic string of emojis rather than words. Regardless of the author’s ability and the reader’s aptitude to understand, texting with or without emojis can be a slippery slope as a co-parent, to say the least. User beware.

There is plenty of room for misinterpretation when it comes to these modern hieroglyphs. Court cases about these misinterpretations are on the rise. As you can imagine a text response with a ‘gun’ and ‘knives’ in it could mean -’I want to kill you’ or is simply dramatic or sarcastic garnish to a statement. But in the case of a high-conflict situation like co-parenting, you can see this through a different lens. Studies are showing the disparity of how emojis are designed across different devices and platforms, yet adding yet more gray area between sender and receiver.1

You are potentially leaving these emoji-riddled conversations to the interpretation of the court. You don’t want to do that since it is clear there is no clear guideline or laws for use and you are leaving it up to the lawyers to build the case and the judge to interpret. With an area so full of gray area, that is unwise. 

What is clear is that the courts are caught in ‘transitional years’, adjusting to how emojis are defined, used and interpreted. While some people may take advantage of this gray area, you as a co-parent may want to be cautious of your use. Think twice and fallback on standard words to text clearly. Employ a business-like manner in texting much like you do during drop-offs and exchanges, making sure you are clear, concise and respectful at all times. 

We know this all too well. 

That’s why we developed the language filter for our messaging platform in the coParenter app. We understand how powerful words are. We understand the need to keep the conversation clean and proactive, even if emotions are running raw. Be mindful of how you use emojis with your co-parent and keep communication clean, clear and simple. By doing this you will keep unneeded and unnecessary conflict out of your life and your children’s lives. 


  1. ‘Blissfully Happy” or “Ready to Fight” | University of Minnesota

Related Article: