Statistics show that around 70% of all business partnerships fail — and a little less than half of marriages do, too. In fact, 827,000 divorces occur every year. And if you share children together, the situation can become even more complex.
Co-parenting with your former partner can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. Aside from navigating the legalities of child support payments (which account for over two-thirds of the mean annual personal income for custodial parents living below the poverty line) and custody arrangements, the complications that have come along with our current crisis can make it even harder for both parents to safely spend time with their children — and to ensure the best interests of their little ones are being prioritized.
While every co-parenting situation will differ slightly, there are a few guidelines that will help everyone get through these uncertain times. Here are some tips that can help you co-parent more effectively during the ongoing pandemic.
Be As Flexible As Possible
Whether you divorced amicably or there’s still a lot of tension between you and your ex, it’s important to put aside whatever bias or strong emotions you may have as much as possible. Rather than get worked up about changing routines, commit to being flexible and taking developments as they come. There’s so much that we can’t control right now — from classroom arrangements to employment situations — that it doesn’t make sense to make your life more difficult due to changes you might not have been able to anticipate. Even if your custody arrangement worked well prior to the pandemic, it’s possible that this agreement may not be best for everyone seven months in. If at all possible, come to an accord with your former partner that flexibility should be the main focus and that rolling with the punches (within reason, of course) should be the name of the game.
Establish Clear Safety Rules
It’s important that you, your ex, and your children talk about safety guidelines to consistently follow. That means that everyone should be following the same rules in regard to hand-washing, mask-wearing, social distancing, and other preventative measures in order to stay safe and healthy. Make sure that both you and your spouse are willing to align with guidelines issued by the CDC and your child’s school. This can, of course, be more difficult if one parent has more controversial views about COVID-19. Ideally, however, everyone should err on the side of caution and defer to the most health-conscious comfort level. In other words, parents shouldn’t knowingly do anything that could cause a need to quarantine (like going to restaurants or seeing friends without wearing a mask). Although house rules may be enforced differently, it’s important to put aside any disagreements and look at the bigger picture: maintaining the safety of your child.
Use Tech To Your Advantage
If your child is engaging in remote learning in any capacity, you’ll need to establish a way they can easily do their work from home — and that may mean from both homes. If one parent has unreliable internet and they need to attend virtual classes, it may be worth revisiting your custody arrangement so that your child can learn in a dependable way during the week. But even if your child is attending school in-person every day, tech can still come in handy. Take advantage of the many co-parenting apps that exist in order to keep schedules straight and share important information about health, safety, and any urgent developments. If both parents are committed to keeping the lines of communication open, this can alleviate anxiety and minimize the possibility for resentment.
Parenting during the pandemic is no easy feat — but sharing custody of your child, on top of everything else, can be incredibly stressful. With these tips in mind, you can continue to work together (although you’re apart) to ensure your child has the support they need to thrive.