As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage communities around the world, people are practicing self-quarantine and social distancing, separating themselves from others except for their immediate families. But for separated and divorced parents sharing custody over their minor children, what “immediate family” means seems like a blurry definition.
All over the country, family lawyers are being swamped with inquiries from worried parents whether they should return their kids to co-parents not keen on following social distancing regulations. Other parents also reported their ex-partners’ refusal to comply with custody orders citing the COVID-19 as a reason.
Co-parenting could be stressful enough under normal circumstances. But with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, it is all the more difficult for co-parents to navigate the murky waters of shared child custody. Learning how to deal with the current challenges is the key to successful co-parenting during these trying times.
Tips to a Successful Co-Parenting in a Pandemic
Every family and circumstances are different. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution to help you and your ex face the many challenges that this current pandemic is giving. Nonetheless, here are some important things you and your ex should consider while on this crisis.
Always Express Your Love to Your Child
The mistake of some parents is that they assume their children know how much they love them. Parents need to understand that kids coping up with divorce are also experiencing emotional turmoil. Most of them assume they are the reason why their parents separated.
To remedy this, parents need to be vocal in showing their appreciation and love for their children. Say “I love you” often and when talking to your kids, do not be stingy in giving praises. Especially during these difficult times, your children need to hear the assurance of your love and appreciation for them.
Quality Over Quantity
What most separated or divorced parents worry about is that they do not get to see their children enough. However, parents need to understand that having quality time together is more important than quantity.
When spending time with your kids, be “present” with them as much as possible. Do not be around physically while your mind is elsewhere. And for those frontline worker parents who are extremely busy right now, even a 30-minute video call every day would mean a lot for your kids.
Communicate With Your Co-Parent
The majority of divorced parents’ relationships are fragile at best. However, a lack of proper communication during this time could only put a further strain on your relationship. Although speaking to your ex may seem difficult, be the better person and help your ex see the bigger picture.
Be upfront and clear of any difficulties you are having concerning your custody arrangement. Most importantly, be polite or at least maintain civility when trying to discuss the welfare of your kids. Your ultimate goal of working together is to keep a healthy and safe custody arrangement amid this pandemic.
Find and Maintain Structure
Kids thrive best with routine. With schools and other learning institutions providing elementary education online or at home, co-parents need to inform each other about lessons and homework of their children. That way, they lessen the hassle that comes with switching households.
With the threat of COVID-19 lurking around the corner, having a defined structure helps keep your co-parent and your kids healthy and safe. Apart from school-related matters, discuss with your ex-partner your children’s new daily routine, such as bedtime, extracurricular activities, and study period.
Allow Your Children to Express Themselves
Understand that your children are also having difficulties adjusting during these trying times. Allow them to express their feelings and thoughts without fear that you might reprimand them, or that you will get angry.
Your kids also worry about the health and safety of their other parents. Thus, although you might not be on good terms with your co-parent, allow your children to express their sentiments.
Put Yourself on Your Ex’s Shoes
Your co-parent might be on the frontline right now, and that is why he or she has difficulty doing his or her part on the joint custody agreement. Worse, your ex might be among the thousand furloughed employees left with no job and income to pay for child support.
With this in mind, try to be more understanding of your ex’s situation. Try to come up with a solution together so that you both can overcome this crisis.
Divorced couples and the legal community are facing uncharted waters right now. Though it is a priority that both of you and your co-parent comply with the child custody agreement, learn to bend over backward if situations arise that you need to be more accommodating and understanding.