Co-parenting with your ex can be complicated even during the best of times. But now that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing stress and anxiety levels to their limits, that awkward relationship with your ex may be operating on extra-thin ice. Considering that the situation doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon, you probably need to talk with your ex-spouse about co-parenting during the pandemic. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Take time to communicate
Uncertainty and confusion continue to consume the daily news, creating a roller coaster of emotions for even the most resilient among us. Like everyone, you and your ex will weather this storm much better if you learn to communicate with each another. Keep the scope of the conversations or text messages limited to each party’s needs in terms of childcare. But remember that maintaining an open line of communication is vital to arranging visitation or handing off parental duties.
Your ex may know exactly how to push your buttons, but losing your temper isn’t going to help you – or your kids – in the current situation. If necessary, step away from the conversation until you have a handle on your emotions, and then continue on with the planning. That may be easier said than done, but it’s crucial to reaching a compromise.
Try to be flexible
As businesses close or go online, work situations in all walks of life are being dramatically altered. The co-parenting agreement you had in place before the coronavirus outbreak may no longer be viable. Unfortunately, that’s a reality you must both learn to navigate.
In all likelihood, your employment status has changed – and that change could be drastic. If either parent works in the healthcare field, for instance, regular working hours could be turned upside down. It’s important to keep in mind that the pandemic is by and large the cause of this. While adjusting your own schedule may be inconvenient, it may be the only way to meet your child’s needs.
Keep the focus on your kids
Keep in mind that you and your ex aren’t the only ones coping with the pandemic and complications related to your co-parenting arrangement. Your children’s lives have been profoundly impacted as well, and they have little say in what to do about it.
If there’s ever been a time where your children need to see you and your ex working together, it’s now. The way you treat you ex serves as a model for their own behavior toward that parent, and that treatment should be respectful at a bare minimum. Your children may be feeling overwhelmed at the complete change of routine, the absence of their friends, and the very real fear of people getting sick. Do your best to remember that they’re following your lead right now.
Seek mediation if necessary
At the end of the day, the co-parenting relationship between you and your ex-spouse may be so fractured that you simply can’t communicate with one another. If that’s the case, it’s important to admit that you need a third party to help create a compromise that works for you and your children. Many professional mediation services, psychologists and attorneys are still operating as essential services, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance.
In the midst of the pandemic, everyone is feeling anxious and worried. Working together is essential to figuring out the proper course of action, particularly when it comes to co-parenting with your ex-spouse. Keep the lines of communication open. Be respectful and flexible. And seek help when you need it. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together.
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.