Co-parenting in these trying times
So many of us are in “stay at home” mode and probably haven’t left the house in a couple of days and at the same time some of us are having to navigate a rather challenging co-parenting relationship with a former partner. You are probably also fed up of hearing that these are exceptional times but the reality of it is that they are, so it calls for a greater degree of patience especially when it comes to issues such as co-parenting. Co-parenting in normal times is hard so by now your patience must be wearing pretty thin. A world-wide pandemic will throw you a whole heap of new challenges such as fear, anxiety, loss of control, financial pressures, mental health issues to name just a few. Many of these challenges you did not anticipate in your wildest dreams so it’s necessary to be more creative in the way you deal with your co-parent and manage the co-parenting relationship. Here are my top tips to help you cope better:

Be patient – your former partner may be difficult to cope with at the best of times and is probably being a tad more unreasonable at the moment. My advice is to ignore any tantrums, don’t get drawn into petty arguments. Focus on the bigger picture always. Don’t react to triggering emails and text messages. That way you stop them in their tracks. As Bill Eddy from the High Conflict Institute says, adopt a BIFF response. Be brief, informative, friendly and firm in all your communication. What this means is that you just need to provide the required information, no more no less. For example if you have concerns about the kids maintaining a certain level of hygiene when they are with the other parent, broach the subject with the other parent by voicing your concerns calmly rather than adopting an accusatory tone. Always keep copies of correspondence and text messages. I recommend the use of an app such as FAYR which stores a record of all communication.

Be kind and generous – it maybe that one parent is unable to spend as much time with the child as they would like to for whatever reason. Social distancing brings on a whole lot of unanticipated challenges. Ensure your child still keeps in contact with the other parent through Facetime, Whats App or Skype and encourage the closeness with your ex is maintained (even if it is not “their parenting time”). Get the kids excited about this and do all you can to encourage this interaction.

When Self-isolating – keeping the kids safe and healthy should be the priority at this time. If you have court orders in place you must follow what is set out in them. Having said that in these trying times as I call them, I think it is important that parents have the discussion and communicate in a calm, considered way about how they manage the co- parenting especially in a situation where one or the other has been exposed to the virus and is required to self isolate. The best interests of the kids must be balanced against the needs of the parent to spend time with the child. Instead of deciding to keep the child away from the the other parent, have a discussion about it and make suggestions about putting “video visits” in place instead of “in parent visits” during the quarantine period.

Honesty – if either parent suspects that they may have been exposed to Covid-19, convey this to the other parent as soon as possible and reach agreement on how you both will manage the situation moving forward.
Remember that these are extraordinary times and it requires an extraordinary degree of understanding and flexibility from both parents, so step up to the challenge and role model your best behavior at this time regardless of how challenging and difficult the situation may be. It’s your responsibility to be the calming influence in your children’s lives in this time.

If you need further information on navigating the co-parenting relationship, improving communication and managing conflict you can book in a complimentary Clarity Call with me here 15 min call and I will be happy to discuss any issues you may be having or browse through my website for more information. Stay safe, stay well and spark some joy as you go along.

Anne-Marie Cade’s Bio

Hi, I am Anne-Marie. I am also a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner / Nationally Accredited Mediator, Certified Divorce Coach, High Conflict Coach, Parent Coordinator and founder of Divorce Right.
I have created a revolutionary new way for clients to heal and get over divorce or break-up. I am passionate about family and relationships and I work with clients to empower them to improve communication, manage conflict and reach a peaceful, amicable separation, so they can successfully co-parent together. I incorporate mindfulness practices into my coaching and mediation sessions so my clients are able to get more centered and grounded and become more mindful about the decisions they make.
This unique method helps clients manage the conflict, re-frame their relationship with their partner and finalize all the paperwork so they can move on to the next chapter of your life. I believe that this approach will ensure a positive outcome for the family. I am currently working on my soon to be released book “Peaceful Divorce, Happy Kids.”

I offer 1-1 coaching programs, group coaching, online courses, workshops, and mediation services.
If you or someone you know needs assistance during divorce you can organise a complimentary 15 minute chat here.