Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic dramatically upended our lives, you and your ex may have had an effective and comfortable co-parenting plan in place. Your child may have enjoyed a predictable schedule, knowing how long they would reside with you and anticipating when it would be time to spend time with the other parent. This stable schedule gave your child a firm foundation and probably made them feel safe. However, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused parents to make significant adjustments to their co-parenting plans, and these disruptions may be leaving your child feeling more vulnerable and anxious about the future. Let’s take a look at three ways you and your child’s other parent can support your child during this uncertain time.
Tip #1: Minimizing Risk
While you and your child’s other parent have probably already made adjustments to your parenting plan and visitation schedule to minimize everyone’s exposure to the virus, it’s worth discussing your actions with your child. Checking in with your child to explain that you will be keeping them with you for a few extra weeks because their other parent is an essential worker or has a compromised immune system can help your child understand why these changes are happening. The more your child can hear you talk about your intentional efforts to keep all family members in both households safe and healthy, the more your child will feel reassured and cared for during this chaotic time.
Tip #2: Keeping Communication Open
Even if your child doesn’t seem that concerned about the virus or the way it is impacting your daily lives, take the time to check in with your child in meaningful ways. Both parents can find ways to ask questions that show they care deeply about their child. If one parent is unable to be physically near the child, talking on the phone or via FaceTime is a good way to connect with your child. Playing an online role-playing game could also give you and your child the opportunity to have fun together (from a distance), and you can discuss the game afterward and let your child know you are there for them. As much as you can, try to check in with your child’s other parent as well, sharing your observations and strategies with each other so that you can create a unified approach to supporting your child.
Tip #3: Seeking Help When You Need It
Parenting during a pandemic is not easy. While you are trying to be there for your child and your loved ones, you also need to make sure you are caring for yourself. Taking time to check in with your emotions and mental state is key. Taking small breaks to take some deep breaths, go outside, or call a friend can give you the strength you need in order to keep supporting your child and your family. Most importantly, if you are struggling, ask for help. Talk to a loved one about what types of support you need, and you can work together to make sure that you obtain the help you need.
If you need help with a child custody matter in the West Chester area, call the knowledgeable and compassionate family law attorneys at Garretson & Holcomb, LLC today at (513) 863-6600.