When Your Co-Parent Wants You to Keep The Kid
Maybe you have a weekly schedule or a steady 2-2-5 rotation. What if you have your kids, on your schedule, and your co-parent starts grilling you about conditions for their return. It’s likely frustrating and feels very unsupportive of your parenting too. All of that may be true, or not, but it can certainly feel that way for sure. So, what’s the best approach? Should you respond angrily and defensively? It may be cathartic for about the time it takes to send the email but it’s not likely to yield the results you want. So, what can you do to stand up for yourself and your child as well as your need to follow the custody order/schedule too? Is it sharing the real risks of covid-19 found here, or staying steady?It’s likely much more impactful to respond to what you can do, recognizing the limits of your co-parent and prioritize the needs of your child which is always the best path in divorce. Read on for the Top Three Tips To Co-Parenting Covid-19 Crazy!
- First, take a deep breath. Yes, actually do it, please. After reading any escalating email, take a beat and pause without response. Just because they say it doesn’t make it true, right or worthy of a direct response. So, deep breath, take a walk and return to the email when you can feel less escalated by whatever the message contains.
- Create an outline for a response. Decide what requires a meaningful response and what’s just noise in the message you received. If it’s sent in a text, you can even ask to take the communication to email where a more thoughtful and well-crafted response is likely possible. Remind yourself that not everything communicated about requires you to share your opinion. This is a particularly difficult and critical step when communicating with a co-parent as they can often elevate our internal temperature in ways others, with whom we have never been intimately connected, cannot.
- First, don’t take on their anxiety in their message;
- Think through what matters to you and what will support your child(ren);
- Write a draft and do not hit send. Wait, if you possibly, can, a little while longer to respond. It gives the sender time to calm down, too, which is always a good thing!
- Press Send With A Message That Supports You and Your Child(ren). If the message during this covid-19 crisis is one that projects your co-parent’s fear onto you, recognize that your co-parent may not be ill-intentioned but is still acting in line with the behavior you knew in the marriage. Justified or not, they may be reaching out to get reassurance from you about themselves and their child(ren). Give it about the child. Meet them where they are. If they want to understand your household social distancing practices, share them! That’s certainly fair right now. If they want reassurance for themselves, their own fear, you don’t have to respond to that. You certainly can–”I’m sure we will both do all we can to keep ourselves and our child(ren) safe,” for instance may go a long way. However, if you recognize the pattern or escalation of circumstances or an attempt to control that you knew all too well in the marriage–for example: “Let me tell you what to do while I watch you do it,” there is no need to respond to that. If you can compromise and continue to share custody in line with your custody order or agreement, that’s what is expected of you. If you need to be a more accommodating co-parent, you can do that too. You might suggest an equitable exchange of time once the pandemic ends, for instance, if you keep the child(ren) now to limit contact with others if that is their worry. It’s important to stand up for yourself and your child with the knowledge that you have acted in their best interest. Sometimes it requires accommodation for a less capable parent or simply stepping in when they are less able to do so in the moment too.
In sum, best practices co-parenting covid-19 require all of us to show up a little more for each other, including for our co-parent. You and your child will benefit and can thrive too by your example. They will notice how you behave, as well as what you say during this pandemic. Allow that to lead, always, and your child(ren) will be better prepared for any challenges they face too.
If you need more support, I’m right here to help. Check out resources right here on www.DearDivorceCoach.com and email me at : Cherie@DearDivorceCoach.com