The COVID-19 pandemic comes with new challenges for parents who have decided to end their marriage or partnership. With this in mind, Kathryn Jones, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist, shared tips on co-parenting amid the pandemic.
Her tips help those who are co-parenting and those struggling with co-parenting since the pandemic.
Prioritize Safety of the Children When Co-Parenting amid the Pandemic
When a parent goes against health guidelines amid the pandemic, it can be a source of stress for the other parent. Children can be silent carriers of COVID-19 and may be positive but show no symptoms.
Thus, it is more essential to follow guidelines such as mask-wearing, social distancing, avoiding large crowds or gatherings, and sanitizing.
If a discussion fails with the parent about the child's health during the pandemic, then you may talk together with a pediatrician or a mediator to get involved as a last resort, Cleveland Clinic revealed.
Further, since the pandemic, children may be unable to go between homes as often, so schedule virtual visits or regular video calls to maintain a connection with the physically-distanced parent.
Maintain the Child's Schedule for Virtual Learning
Consider factors like who has a quieter space conducive to the children's learning, who helps in teaching which subjects, and arranging a study schedule for the kids.
Remember how hard it is for children to start digital learning, not go to school to see their friends, lose the guidance of a teacher, and a healthy outlet where they can forget their problems at home for some time. Focusing on the child's learning experience is essential amid the pandemic.
Talk Openly and Be Ready to Compromise
Dr. Jones stressed the importance of not making the children act as messengers. It can be challenging when you are in the middle of a divorce or when you only argue when you talk, but that is where a psychologist can come in and help.
Remember, it can be more expensive and intrusive to have the family court involved. When possible, have open communication with the other parent on how you plan to raise the children together yet apart.
Communication can help both parties manage expectations and adapt to changing circumstances. Dr. Jones also advised parents to have a compromise plan for their children's sake.
In the middle of arguments and disagreements, be mindful not to do it in front of the children. Skip it for when the kids are not around. Try to keep the kids away from the anger and negativity as much as possible, AARP reminded.
Establish Rules Together and Explain to the Child
Both parents should be on the same page regarding rules. This will avoid stress both for the child and the parents. Especially with small children, both parents need to explain what the rules are at each other's homes and boundaries for discipline, among others.
Without set rules or in the case of differing rules, children are more likely to show disruptive behavior and have trouble following rules once they are back at the other parent's house.
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Watch Out for Signs of Distress in the Child
Dr. Jones advised parents to observe physical distress such as trouble sleeping and having headaches and stomach aches more often. Also, keep an eye out for an increase in tantrums, irritability, and behavioral difficulties.
Be extra wary when children show symptoms of depression like withdrawal. Keep your line of communication with the children open. While parents cannot force their children to talk to them, ensure the kids know they are free to speak with you anytime they are ready to do so.
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