NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Co-parenting, in general, can be complicated and for some it’s even more challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a time for parents to find a way to adapt to the changes while still creating the safest environment for their child or children.
Amanda Childs is a Therapist and the Co-Owner of Shared Families of NWA. Her advice is for parents to come up with a parenting plan that works for their family unit and is at the best interest of their child.
You may want to consider some of these questions. Do any of the parents live with or are considered a high-risk individual? What is the best transportation schedule that reduces the most exposure? What school format works best for the different households?
She says you have to figure out what makes the most sense and establish clear boundaries.
“Just be thoughtful about whatever you’re going to hold your kid’s parent to that you’re going to hold yourself to that too. Some parents are very health conscience and are worried at this time so kind of give each other an ounce of grace,” said Childs.
She adds that it’s also important to give each other space to make your own rules and create your own home culture. You might not always agree but you want to be respectful of the other parent’s choices and be there to help your child navigate through it all.
If you’re having a tough time getting along. Childs says to take a look at your parenting plan. Are you following it? Does it not work as well as you both hoped? It might just need a little tweaking. Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board.
Childs says when parents can really put their personal issues aside and really focus on the child co- parenting goes much smoother for everyone involved.
What you don’t want is a child who feels like they have to choose between parents.
“It really requires both parents to constructively figure out what is in the best interest of the kid. What is in the best interest of the whole family unit for that kid. That kid has one family. Even though there are two households that kid only knows one family,” said Childs.
When things get stressful or tensions are high refocus your energy on to your kid.
Childs says its also important to remember self care. Find ways to manage your stress, get enough sleep and physical activity and make your mental health a priority.
When you have these in order it can make it easier for you to communicate with the other parent, to find solutions and make more effective decisions.
Co-parenting is not easy and you will make mistakes. She says that is why it important to be understanding and remember, open and honest communication is key to making co-parenting work.
If the issues don’t go away, she says not to struggle alone. You might want to consider speaking to a family therapist or mediator.