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Co-parenting in the pandemic



Joint custody of children has gotten even more difficult

Good communication, tolerance, and careful scheduling make the difference when co-parenting


The pandemic has led to a decrease in options for kids, plus a higher level of anxiety for both kids and adults. California-based counselor Suzanne Grimmesy offers advice for divorced or separated parents as they navigate this challenging period.

Communication

Parents need to communicate more than ever, as clearly and consistently as possible. Even if the two of you don't agree on some aspects of child-rearing, you have to work out compromises and decide what's best for the kids. Focus on problem-solving, not winning arguments. Reply to all messages from your co-parent without a long delay, whether it's a phone call, email, or text message.

Scheduling

The schedule you've adopted for joint custody may have to be adjusted to accommodate the children's needs and the parents' work schedule. HealthyChildren.org suggests parents consider such questions as:

  • Does one parent have better Internet access for remote schooling?
  • Does one parent have a job that involves more contact with the public and therefore more risk for household members?
  • Is there a household member in a high-risk group, healthwise?
  • Does one home offer more space, privacy, or access to outdoor exercise, given social-distancing needs?

Be flexible as you determine what changes to make. If quarantine means the kids don't get to see one of the parents in person, schedule regular online visits to maintain the relationship. Plan on setting aside time when restrictions are relaxed so the non-custodial parent can spend more time with children.

Patience

The whole family is likely to be under stress, especially with the new school year starting, uncertainty about the future, the loss of old structures in daily life. Make allowances for both parents and kids, and don't hold onto frustrations. We're all struggling.

Acknowledge resilience

We all tend to worry about our kids, but they will survive and learn from the challenges. Take their needs seriously, but don't allow worry to dominate your interactions. Express confidence in their resilience and inner strength.

Self-care

Be sure to take time for yourself. Relax, re-charge, and do whatever you can to give yourself the capacity to be there when you're needed.



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