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This Is How to Co-Parent During the Coronavirus

This Is How to Co-Parent During the Coronavirus

I am a licensed psychologist who, for the past 15 years, has been working in the family law arena. I have testified in hundreds of cases on child custody and worked with some very high conflict families. Divorce is extremely stressful. Add personality issues, hatred towards one another, hurt feelings, mistrust, and fear to the mix, and it is a lethal combination. And now we have a pandemic on our hands when we are already fearful of our co-parent.

Life couldn’t feel any more stressful. I get it.

However, in these moments, your focus must be your children. Not yourself. Hear me loud and clear. You have to really work hard to go past those awful emotions you have about your ex to think of these precious people you created together. What does your child need in this moment?

Your child does not need you to refuse to follow the time-sharing schedule. Did you hear me? Continue the exchanges. Stop overthinking if his house is too dirty or her new boyfriend is a dirt bag. Your child needs the time-sharing to continue so that he or she can have some normalcy. We know that following routine offers children stability and decreases their anxiety.

If you are working in an environment where you are at higher risk to be exposed to the coronavirus (i.e. the hospital or grocery store) and your co-parent is not, maybe consider letting the children stay with that parent until you are certain that you are not exposing anyone. While one of the consistent reports that is coming from the media is that children are not getting coronavirus, we still do not know if they are not carriers.

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Life couldn’t feel any more stressful. I get it.

Realize your co-parent is just as scared as you. He or she does not trust you about the same amount as you do not trust him or her. Withholding the children, calling each other names, and pointing out the other person’s weaknesses does not help anyone. It only increases the irrational thinking that we are all fighting.

Communicate with your co-parent. Focus on what was good about that person so that you can remind yourself of that as your children are going back and forth. Communicate with a rational mind and don’t sling insults, even if your ex does. Bill Eddy’s concept, BIFF, is the best guide out there for communicating with someone who is conflictual.

B is for brief
I is for informative
F is for friendly, and
F is for firm.

Focus on what is being asked of you and respond to it in a polite and nonjudgmental way. Work to diffuse the situation, not add to it.

Realize your children need peace so that they are not scared. If you and your ex can share your children calmly, keep each other informed, and focus on your children’s needs, your children will not be traumatized by this situation. However, if you focus on your hate for that person, your children will create a terrible memory and see this as a trauma. So use your grit to ignore his or her confrontational ways and show your grace by being the bigger person for those beautiful little people you both created together.

Keep up to date with all the content we have related to coronavirus here!

Don’t miss this one!

Parents, here’s some encouragement when times are tough:

5 Ways Blended Families Can Be Happy and Healthy
A Psychologist Explains How to Compromise and Why You Need to

How to Talk to Our Children About Scary News
8 Things Moms Should Say to Raise Strong Kids
When Life Gives You a New Normal
How to Provide Comfort for Your Children in Uncertain Times
Finding Peace When Everything Is Out of Your Control

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Dr. Christina is a licensed psychologist in a private practice who mostly specializes in children's issues as well as family law. She’s a Midwestern native, wife, and mom of two living in Florida who travels north often to enjoy the beauty of the seasons.

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