Have your child travel with a notebook to write down thoughts and updates
In our last blog post I went through all of the different technological
advances that can be utilized in order to benefit your relationship to
your ex-spouse. The strength of your relationship with the person that
you just divorced isn’t intended to heal any old wounds or anything
like that. Rather, your relationship with your ex-spouse is now important
insofar as it concerns your child and your abilities to co-parent.
With this goal in mind I recommend taking an old school notebook and sticking
it in your child’s overnight bag as he or she travels from your
house to your ex-spouse’s. Fill in the date in the margin and allow
your ex-spouse room to write updates on your child (if he or she is sick,
for example) or just observations in general. As a parent of two children
under the age of three I know how much time is spent guessing about whether
something is wrong with your child based on this or that habit or body movement.
Make it a legitimate notebook rather than loose-leaf paper and a paperclip
so that the pages have to stick together and there is no risk of pages
getting out of order or anything like that. Yes, I understand that there
are tablets, laptops and other superior examples of technology that could
also perform this role. If you are comfortable sharing your tablet with
your ex-spouse, be my guest. A run of the mill notebook will suffice for
A potential drawback of the notebook idea is that if you have longer periods
of possession with your child than, say, a weekend, it may be difficult
to communicate timely messages or questions to your ex-spouse if the manner
that you do so is via the notebook. Obviously the notebook could be lost
and your child could also come across the notebook and read it which may
lead to some awkward interactions.
Utilizing the notebook to benefit your child
When it is coming close to the time that you will be handing off your child
to his other parent, you should take a few moments to share your observations
and give your ex-spouse any information that you believe to be important
for him or her to see.
If your child has been to the doctor provide your ex-spouse the diagnosis
made and any instructions for administering medication. Don’t assume
that the instructions are clear enough on the label to the prescription.
Write out instructions long-hand for your spouse to see. That way if he
or she has questions about anything a phone call will be all that is needed
to clear up any misunderstandings.
On the lighter side, if there is a birthday party that your child has the
following weekend where a gift needs to be purchased that can be communicated
early rather than at the last minute. Planning is a good thing when it
comes to your child, if you haven’t noticed. Spending money on a
gift isn’t a problem, but having to rush around and look for an
appropriate present at the last minute sure is.
During your period of possession if you noticed anything that is alarming
regarding your child- a bad habit, foul language being used or a disrespectful
attitude- share that with your ex-spouse as well. If you notice a bad
habit, nip it in the bud and stay on top of it as your possession period
comes to an end that may do some good in the short term. However, once
your child returns to your ex-spouse it may not be a point of focus or
even be noticed. The bad habit will return, and your child will be emboldened
to act poorly due to one parent ostensibly approving of the behavior.
When you drop your child off with your ex-spouse it is your ex-spouse’s
responsibility to immediately read the notebook to see if there are any
updates that need attention that day. General updates and things to watch
out for are important as well and can help that parent set the tone for
their period of possession. I don’t mean to give you the impression
that your child’s visits with you need to be regimented like in
a jail, but some structure and a lot of communication will improve your
child’s upbringing in my opinion and experience.
Examples of what to include in an update for your infant and toddler
Obviously the information that you report and share will differ depending
upon the age of your child. Young children (three and under) will have
more focus on the essential items to life: a feeding schedule, bathroom
updates if potty training, sleeping schedule as well as explanations of
bruises and scratches. Your ex-spouse will have problems if he or she
immediately attempts to feed your child formula if you fed her right before
drop off time. A writing down of the schedule that she has been on regarding
her meals can help everyone avoid things like over-feeding.
For a child who is in school the focus goes away from the essentials of
life and more towards their school work and extracurricular activities’
schedule. As we touched on earlier in today’s blog post if birthday
parties are upcoming then your ex-spouse will need to be aware in the
event that transportation is needed or if a gift must still be purchased.
If your ex-spouse has only a schedule of football games and isn’t
a part of the team e-mail list she may not know that the conditions on
the normal playing field were too poor for play and that their game on
Saturday has been moved across town. Make sure to communicate this in
your notebook updates. Don’t expect your ex-spouse to ask you and
don’t expect your child to communicate these details for you. Take
the initiative and do the work yourself.
A focus on homework and projects
Parents in today’s world comment to me frequently that it seems like
more and more homework is being assigned compared to when we all were
in school. This may be true. My kids are too young for me to have first
hand knowledge. Regardless, those assignments can involve use of technology,
the purchase of items at a store or even sustained review and experimentation
for particular classes over the course of many days.
For example, if your child has a project to place a rusty penny in cup
filled with soda in order to track the appearance of the penny over the
course of a few days, it will not be good if you don’t tell your
spouse about the three day assignment until the last day of his period
of possession. Your spouse will become annoyed that your communication
system has failed. Your child’s marks in school will suffer because
she was unable to complete an assignment because her parents did not work
together to facilitate communication. Do not make this mistake. Communicate
early and often. Use of the notebook, while tedious and not technologically
advanced, will see to it that you do not experience snafus like this.
More co-parenting tools and systems in tomorrow’s blog
Having to raise a child after a divorce is difficult. The attorneys with
the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have the benefit of witnessing parents who
succeed after divorce and that struggle with their co-parenting after
this difficult time in everyone’s lives. To learn more on this subject
come back tomorrow to take a look at some additional hints and tips that
we have to share.
If you have questions about post-divorce life and raising children please
do not hesitate to
Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. We work with clients and families across southeast Texas and we
would be honored to do the same for you. A free of charge consultation
with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away.