Co-parenting may become a whole new ballgame during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. For divorced couples who are already struggling with a range of financial, emotional, and logistical stresses, the disruption the coronavirus is bringing to our communities and families will present a huge challenge.
Some of the challenges your family will face may include:
- Closed schools
- Altered work schedules
- One or more sick parents
- A changed financial situation of one or both parents
These changes will likely require you to have more contact than usual with your co-parent as you navigate these difficult times. As you struggle to adapt to this crisis, here are some suggestions, if they are feasible given the unique history and dynamics of your family, for maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship for the benefit of your children:
- Keep your children’s needs front and center. No matter how acrimonious or difficult your divorce may have been, this crisis presents an opportunity to rise to the occasion and bring your best self to the forefront with the hope that your co-parent will do the same. Your children are likely apprehensive and perhaps even fearful as a result of overhearing adult conversations. If they see their parents working cooperatively together in a calm and focused fashion, this will lessen their anxieties about the current unknown situation.
- Be creative.Although the schedule set forth in your Agreement or Court Order may have had bigger blocks of time with each parent and fewer transitions, it may be that, on some days, the children’s time must be divided between parents within an individual day. Transitions may need to happen in different or unusual locations. Last minute adjustments may be needed.
- Be concrete.If you haven’t used a written or online calendar before, now is the time to utilize one to spell out where the children will be and with whom during various blocks of time. Ideally you can post identical calendars in each parent’s home so the children can visualize how the schedule will go.
Coping with the realities of COVID-19 is likely to be challenging for every family, intact or otherwise. If the dynamics of your family allow for this and both co-parents are able to work together constructively, your family may also discover new and healthy patterns of interaction that will build for the future.