Parenting is challenging, difficult at best, when both parents live in the same home. When they live apart, after separation or divorce, other obstacles can exist. Besides basic disagreements, emotions of anger, confusion, and frustration may ensue. Families may struggle to establish a new norm and daily/weekly routine. Effective communication and problem-solving is key.
The recent pandemic seems to be more stressful on two-household families. Ideally, co-parents should have a plan in place to help them problem-solve in time of crisis and ask some difficult questions:
Here are some questions that can help co-parents talk through the possible need to adjust their child's visitation schedule:
- Is it truly in the child's best interest to continue to follow the parenting plan that is in place, sending the child back and forth between homes?
- Is one parent better able to support home schooling than the other? For example, is internet service equally available at both homes?
- Does one parent have a job that involves more contact with the public and therefore more risk for household members?
- Who else lives in the home, and how much contact do they have with the public?
- Is a household member in a high-risk group: over the age of 60, suffering from underlying medical conditions, or immunocompromised?
- Does one home have more space or better access to safe outdoor space where children can play and get exercise while keeping the recommended physical distance?
Let it be known this is a difficult time for everyone. And if you’re the parent who is giving up the time with their child...you may be afraid your child may begin to prefer the other parent or that the other parent is manipulating the situation. Child support payment changes also becomes a sticky situation. Maybe you’re also worried that if you allow the parenting plan to be adjusted, you will never get the time back. Those are very real and legitimate concerns. Voice those concerns to the other parent.
Open communication is key here. Both parents are being asked to honestly consider what changes must be made now to keep their children and others in the home safe. Until this crisis is over, physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 may require divorced or separated parents to temporarily change the way they share their children’s time as they normally would.
Ways co-parents can work together:
- Keep communication open. Answer all forms of communication (phone calls, texts, emails, etc.) with your co-parent in a timely manner.
- Don't keep score.?? It will not lead to any solutions, and on that note, enter each conversation with finding a solution together as your goal.
- Stay socially connected while physical distanced. Schedule FaceTime or Zoom calls between your co-parent and your child. Set a time and make the child available for video calls.
- Once this crisis is over, set aside extra time so that the non-custodial parent and child can become comfortable again.
Remember-Everyone is having to adapt to some uncomfortable changes during this pandemic. It has disrupted childcare, school and work, shifting the patterns of our lives. Reassure your child that we will get through this, that some changes are only temporary, and most importantly, they are loved.
Source: Healthy Children AAP