Co-parenting is working together to raise, parent, guide, and support your children. Sometimes this is something that parents do together under one roof and sometimes this is something that divorced or separated parents have to do living in different houses. Co-parenting can be challenging when you and your partner are married. It can be even more challenging when you are divorced or separated and there are other tensions and conflicts in an already strained relationship.
What are some of the common issues of co-parenting with the pandemic?
There are many issues with co-parenting but with the pandemic additional issues are popping up. Parents are struggling with the level of quarantine that they want to enforce for their children. Some parents are more open to the idea of their children socializing and have very few social restrictions. Other parents are imposing strict quarantine rules on their children. This poses a problem when you are sending your children back and forth between two houses. It can create even more conflict in the already strained co-parenting relationship.
Another issue is how to teach your children. New Hanover County public schools just released their plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Children will go to school for one week of in person learning and then do two weeks of remote learning. This is challenging for parents who are living together. How do you juggle teaching children at home with all of your other responsibilities? How do you work and do remote learning at the same time? How do you help each of your children when they are at different learning levels? This is hard enough under one roof but can be even more challenging when children are going between two houses.
How do you effectively co-parent in a pandemic?
The first thing to recognize is that everyone is under a great deal of stress right now. Now more than ever we need to give each other and our children grace. Recognize that things are tough. Even though it can be challenging, right now it is more important than ever to work together with your co-parent to raise and teach your child. Try to reduce stress and conflict. Open communication.
Try to get together with your co-parent and discuss what quarantine looks like for your family. Discuss fears, concerns and strategies. Do not put your co-parent or their ideas down. Try to understand where the other parent is coming from. Is there a way to blend your two perspectives? Discuss how you two together, or separately, will talk to your children about the pandemic and how to keep safe.
There also needs to be a lot of discussion about distance learning. Get together with your co-parent and talk about what you each envision this to look like. What are your child’s strengths and weakness when it comes to distance learning? What are each of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to teaching and supporting your child’s learning? Work to identify who would be good at what and build a team together. Maybe one of you is a better leader? Maybe one of you has experience with teaching or technology? Use your energy to strengthen your co-parenting team rather than tear it down. Again, we are all under so much stress. Why add fighting with your co-parent into that mix?
What if this is too hard?
I recognize that not all co-parents are able to talk things through in a productive and healthy manner. If this is too challenging for you and/or your partner please ask for help. Reach out to a therapist and ask them to help you open the co-parenting lines of communication. A good therapist can help you two navigate the challenges that are popping up during these stressful and uncertain times.