Many parents are asking, “how are we supposed to follow our parenting plan during this pandemic?” You are not alone in trying to figure out how to navigate co-parenting during this unprecedented time.
There are a few very important decisions for you and your co-parent to make. Once made, these decisions will serve as your guide in developing temporary modifications to your parenting plan to adapt to the changing circumstances. If you choose wisely, these decisions can provide a framework for creating a happy, safe, and healthy environment for your children, even in the face of a global crisis.
As you begin the process of establishing your guidelines, think about why you developed a thoughtful parenting plan in the first place. At The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation, we always work under the premise that there is nothing more important than the health and well-being of children and families. You likely had a similar thought when developing your own parenting plan. Channel these thoughts of your children’s best interest when making decisions moving forward.
Decision #1: Can we agree to a complete ceasefire or are we going to double-down on our demands?
If you and your co-parent have a contentious relationship, you need to decide if you can both agree to a complete ceasefire, with a dedication to cooperation, or decide to double-down on all your demands.
Keep in mind that doubling-down will ultimately harm your children. No one has all of the right answers at a time like this. Dedicate yourself to active-listening with your co-parent. Listen to understand. They may have valid reasons for their opinions based upon new information.
Decision #2: Am I going to be a positive role model for my children?
Inevitably, your children will face difficult times in their lives. Right now, you have the opportunity to step up and show them how to be your best self, even during a crisis. Some parents will remain calm, do what they can to provide a safe environment and work with their co-parent to ensure that their children remain happy and healthy. Others will bicker and fight, work against their co-parent’s wishes trying to get their own way, and ultimately add more stress to what their children are already experiencing. Other parents will resolve differences in a parenting mediation meeting.
Their mediator will help them make plans that allow them to serve as good role models for their kids. Decide now to be a good role model; you, your co-parent, your extended families, and your children will reap the benefits for years to come.
This crisis is an opportunity to be the parent you truly want to be.
Decision #3: Are we going to follow routine patterns of communication or start fresh?
It is possible for you and your co-parent to agree to some basic communication rules to avoid counter-productive communication. Now is the perfect time to make a change. You and your co-parent can create new, positive communication patterns following these guidelines:
- Agree that everything you decide will put the needs of the children first.
- Recognize that you won’t always agree on what is best –Be prepared to compromise.
- Make constructive proposals to find the point at which you both are happy (enough) with your decision.
- Maintain a soft tone of voice and state your support and appreciation for your co-parent out loud.
- Acknowledge that you are both under immense strain and commit to helping reduce each other’s stress by cooperating and collaborating.
- Agree to stay on topic and to address one issue at a time.
Decision #4: Would it be better for each of us and our children if we make temporary agreements in mediation?
If you and your co-parent struggle to communicate in a respectful and cooperative manner, online parenting mediation can help keep conflict low. Even if you and your spouse communicate well with each other, online parenting mediation ensures that each and every aspect of your parenting agreement is thoughtfully addressed.
Your mediator can provide the support and structure you and your co-parent need as you make crucial decisions that will greatly impact your children. It is important for co-parents to know that parenting mediation can take place at any time should the need for increased support arise.
Once you and your co-parent have made these decisions, you can begin the process of collaborating to address the aspects of your parenting plan that may require temporary modification during the COVID-19 crisis. It is important to commit to making sure you, your co-parent, and your children are set up for success.
If at any time the pressures begin to mount and you feel outside support is needed, The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation is here to help you through the process. We always prioritize the health and well-being of your children and are committed to helping you navigate this crisis.