When you became a parent nobody ever told you that raising a child was going to be easy. The fact of the matter is that parenting is tough. The kids don't come with instruction manuals as you've probably been told a time or two and whether or not that was meant as a joke it's no laughing matter that you and I struggle as parents. We have our strengths and we have our weaknesses and more than we probably realize we rely upon our spouses in ways that we don't immediately think of when it comes to raising our children. Raising a child is a two-person job.
The reality that raising a child is a job design for two people doesn't change when you get a divorce. You are still able to work with your ex-spouse in raising your children together. Living in separate households in having different views on parenting are not excuses when it comes to raising children together. Just when he thought the hard work was done associated with working together with your spouse you become aware that raising a child with your now ex-spouse is going to be the most important and most difficult challenge that you all have had to face together.
The fact that there is a way that you and your ex-spouse will be forever connected at the hip is sort of emotionally tricky for many people to navigate after a divorce. You worked diligently during your divorce to do what you can to protect the interests of your children and yourself while separating yourself emotionally and physically from your ex-spouse. While you may be living separately now and have separate financial statuses the key part to the divorce is that you are raising a child together as a team despite the separation in other areas of your life.
The word co-parenting is one that you hear quite a bit at the end of a child custody or divorce case. Parents that are now separating are encouraged to work together with their child's other parent to focus on agreed upon goals for that child and to establish parenting norms. Things like consistency and discipline, bedtime for the kids and expectations with schoolwork are the types of things that parents coordinate when they are no longer living in the same household. In large part, the success of your child in school and in their extracurricular activities depends on how well you and your former partner Co parent.
In typical times, you and your ex-spouse can become complacent when it comes to co-parenting and oftentimes get away with it. Suppose that you and your Ex-spouse do not coordinate discipline for your child who got in trouble at school. At your home, your child is disciplined a great deal and is made to stay in their room for the majority of the past week due to the infraction at school. if at your call parents’ home there is no discipline initiated by you as a result of their bad behavior at school your child will get mixed messages as a result.
In the grand scheme of things matters like this are not overly impactful on your child when taken in isolation. Parents who live together and are married can differ a great deal on how they discipline their children. Being divorced from your spouse does not in and of itself mean that there will be problems when it comes to establishing a good co-parenting routine. However, it certainly does not help when parents do not live together, do not communicate well and are also facing a viral pandemic on top of that.
Co-parenting is especially important right now when it comes to establishing consistency and stability in the life of your child. Nobody knows exactly where this pandemic is going to go. You and your ex-spouse may have completely different views about what is appropriate as far as social distancing and risk prevention when it comes to the Corona virus. There is no set of information that I have seen which is definitive as far as what path this virus will take as far as how many people it will infect and how many people will unfortunately pass away due to infection with the virus.
With all of that said, It doesn't really matter what your personal opinions are about anything regarding the coronavirus. You are still going to do everything you can to keep your child safe despite the added risks to our health during this time. That is what I would like to discuss with you in today's blog post. Namely, just how critical it is for you to be able to Co parent and share the burdens of raising your children together. As much as we want to think about this time Being a novelty it really isn't in regard to how we feel about our kids. We all still love our kids just the same and at the same concern for their safety.
How to co-parent when parenting doesn't come easy
We don't get to choose the circumstances that impact our lives and those of our children. All we are able to do is to do our best with the circumstances and situations we are presented with period keeping in mind that whatever difficulties we as adults are going through our children are experiencing even greater uncertainty and instability in their own lives. We are being inundated with information and numbers every day about the coronavirus. Many adults do not know how to keep these numbers into perspective. If an adult doesn't know how to keep in perspective the information, we receive regarding coronavirus how can we expect our children to be able to do so?
I would never tell you that it is a good idea to turn off the television or to not go on the Internet and instead to shut yourself off from the world. Especially in a time like this where information is power, we have to be able to contextualize the information that we receive and then gain perspective to help us better parent our children. Again, I will point out that this is the same thing we as parents do every day when it comes to parenting our children. It's just that the inputs are a little bit different now with coronavirus being a relevant factor to consider.
Consider how you and your ex-spouse can make positive impacts on your children during this time even if you are residing in separate households. Every day when you wake up you may not feel excited about facing down headlines about people getting sick and people dying but that doesn't mean that we can retreat from our obligation and duty to parent our children to the best of our ability. Having patience with an ex-spouse in hopes of being able to co-parent with him or her is an essential part of this process.
Different types of parents lead their families in different ways. You are probably familiar with how your ex-spouse parents and here she is probably aware of how you lead. It is for the best when parents have a shared vision of how they are going to lead their family and lead their children. Depending on the age of your children they may not be able to understand and consider much of any information about the coronavirus. That's OK. What you as parents have to do at a minimum is coordinate how you are going to keep your children safe.
For example, are you and your ex-spouse in favor of allowing your children to spend time in other people’s homes? What about attending church services? Or even eating at a local restaurant? These are all valid questions to ask yourselves to have you discussed these issues with your ex-spouse and gotten their perspective on them? If you've not done so then I would certainly go about the business of doing that. The fact is that restaurants, businesses and churches are all opening up and the trend will continue for the foreseeable future absent any dramatic turns in the path of the virus.
This means that you may run into a situation where you are of the mind to keep your children at home as much as possible while your ex-spouse may believe that it is safe for your children to resume life as close to normal as possible. I'm not here to play tiebreaker on what you all should be doing. Obviously, you should consider the opinions of your child's doctor in any persons who have expertise in this field. Above all else I would never tell you to ignore your own common sense and understanding of the risk posed to our families.
No matter if you and your ex-spouse disagree on how to handle this particular issue you at least need to attempt to communicate with one another and keep the other informed of how you are spending time with your children. If your ex-spouse goes and takes your children to a social setting and your Xbox were to find out that someone in that social setting was sick with the coronavirus or any other illness for that matter it would behooved him or her to inform you of your child's exposure. That way you can minimize the risk to your family and other people by keeping your child at home and certainly taking her child to the doctor for testing.
Negligence does not equal malice
Something I run into quite a bit with parents when they are new to the divorce process is that one parent will oftentimes accused the other parent of engaging in a behavior that is thought to have been purposely harmful either to them or to their child. When you are dealing with a family that is separated into two houses there is an increased risk of miscommunication and outright failure to communicate. Throw in a factor of parents being unable to agree on much of anything and you have a potentially combustible situation.
From my perspective as someone who has seen families go through problems like these if you have a situation where you believe your ex-spouse acted with malice towards you in ignoring one of your rules or ignoring your wishes, I would ask that you first take a look at the situation and determine whether or not he or she acted purposefully or acted out of negligence. It is easy to lose track of time, forget about a request from the other parent or to act and in any way that may cause indirect harm to you or your child.
Parenting is hard enough as it is. Co-parenting can be even more difficult. Co-parenting during a viral pandemic can add a layer of difficulty that many of us thought that we'd never have to face his parents. But that said, if you are able to extend some grace to your ex-spouse communicate well with him or her and keep in mind that everything you are doing is in the best interests of your child then I believe you and your ex-spouse can lead your family to this pandemic by co-parenting.
If you can agree to disagree with your Co parent, keep him or her aware of what is going on at your home and commit to being transparent when it comes to interacting with the other parent you have a chance to be able to lead your family despite the problems presented by the pandemic.
Questions about co-parenting during the Corona virus pandemic? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we are able to meet with you in person, via video and over the phone. These consultations are a low stress, no hassle engagement where you can obtain information an perspective into your circumstances as a family.