As the world grapples with the unprecedented events brought on by COVID-19, parents who are separated or divorced are facing sudden and unfamiliar challenges in the area of co-parenting.
What does this mean for children of separated parents living in two different homes? While the exact circumstances of each separated family vary widely, here are some tips that can help families get through this period:
1. Keep to orders where possible. Court orders are still in effect during the circuit breaker period. In general, existing parenting arrangements should continue with precautionary measures in place: the pandemic should not be used as an excuse to restrict the other parent’s access to your child. Keeping to existing arrangements will help your child maintain normalcy and stability. In this turbulent time, children need to know that both their parents will be going through this with them.
With Home Based Learning (HBL) and now school holidays at home, there will be a lot of demands on parents to grapple with their children’s school holiday homework, tuition and enrichment classes. Share instructions and resources from schools with each other to reduce frustration and conflict between the adults and with the child. It is a stressful time and we can do our part to reduce uncertainty and confusion for each other.
2. Discuss changes together. Where changes to current access arrangements are necessary, do make alternative plans with the other parent and communicate concerns. Locations previously used for handovers may also no longer be open during this period, and new ones may need to be found.
In situations where one parent makes the difficult decision to temporarily forgo access for the safety of the child, the other parent should permit access through remote means such as Skype or video calls, and make plans to make up for physical access later. Parents not living with their child can also consider utilising postal, courier or food delivery services that are still running to connect with and show love to your child.
Expect the need to communicate with the other parent more frequently during this time, and exercise even greater flexibility under these testing circumstances.
3. Be transparent. Do account to each other for your child’s movements and physical interactions with others. With most families staying home, update the other parent on your child’s daily activities, including your child’s medical and emotional health, and progress in Home-Based Learning (HBL). This helps to build mutual assurance that both you and the other parent are abiding by COVID-19 guidelines in your respective households, with respect to social distancing, practising good personal hygiene, and modelling these positive examples to your child.
We hope these tips will help families maintain their bonds during this difficult time. Stay tuned for new tips in our next post!