It is no secret that the current crisis is wreaking havoc in the United States and around the globe. Medical supply shortages, scarce stocks in grocery stores and social distancing are just a few of the implications COVID-19 is causing. On top of that, many are being required to stay home from work and children are having to stay home from school due to school closures – some of which are indefinite.
So how do we co-parent during this time of confusion? Are mandated school closures the same as the kinds of days off from school that your custody agreements talk about? What if the United States enters into an Italy styled shut down and you can’t meet your child’s other parent for the exchange? We understand the stress of co-parenting on a normal day, and we hope the following tips can help get you through even the toughest predicaments.
Remain calm. Your kids feed off your energy. If they suspect something is wrong, they will more than likely display unusual behaviors as a response. Behaviors that will probably add to your already stressful situation. If you can manage to remain calm and not allow the emotions that come with this worrying time to take over you, it will help with all of the transitions that are to come from with switching to online or at home schooling and changing schedules.
Be patient with your co-parent(s). A national/global pandemic is not an excuse to take your frustrations out on your co-parent. It is also not an excuse to sabotage your co-parent by talking poorly about them to your child. Provoking unnecessary fights or engaging in overly combative conversations will not help the situation in any way, but rather, exasperate the situations. Instead, be patient, and keep your child’s safety and health as your main goals. Remember that everyone involved are experiencing the stress of the same pandemic and it is important to try your hardest to keep your kid’s schedule as normal as possible for continuity and structure. You don’t want to make irrational decisions or say things to your co-parent during this crisis that will impact you and your child even after this crisis is over.
Implement healthy communication. This is imperative. The best interest of the child is, at its core, the main priority of the terms of custody. Take the time to communicate your concerns to your co-parent and open that line of communication for them to express their concerns. In doing that, do not lose sight of the best interest of the child – this is a difficult time for them as well. Determine what each of your households are doing to address this pending crisis and get on the same page as much as possible.
Know your agreement, and try to maintain the same structure to the extent possible. Be aware of the terms of your custody agreement/parenting plan. Look for terms that define the plans such as for when school is cancelled, when there is an emergency out of your control, and the procedure for communication with the other parent. Understand what your agreement says in terms of making agreements with your co-parent outside of the final order. At all costs, work with your child’s other parent to stick to the terms of the order that designates your custody terms. In situations of extreme emergencies or mandatory lockdowns that prohibit your ability to meet your co-parent for an exchange, communication with your co-parent is key – this pandemic is out of your control, but cooperation for the sake of your child’s best interest is not. Try to treat your co-parent the way you would expect to be treated. If the other parent must miss time, allow them to make that time up.
These are practices that should be implemented at all times as no one can predict emergencies. Though it is understandable that not every set of parents have amicable relationships. However, it is strongly urged that you work with your co-parent to ensure that this time of crisis is not made more difficult than necessary.
Since every agreement is different, if you have specific questions about yours, please contact our office through phone, email or FB messenger today.