COVID-19 is posing many challenges currently. Those challenges are amplified when trying to co-parent children. Not only do you have worries about your family’s health and well-being while they are socially distancing in your home, but you may have increased worries about whether proper precautions are being taken while your children move between two (or more) homes.
In each home where children live, parents should know and follow the recommendations of public health units. For Kingston, those recommendations can be found at www.kflaph.ca.
A few other recommendations for separated parents:
- Encourage and help your children to wash hands regularly;
- Develop a plan with your
children’s other parent(s) on how you will handle this situation. You may want to include:
- Determining whether the current parenting schedule is the best one under these new circumstances;
- Will the schedule change if someone becomes ill;
- What other resources are available if a parent becomes ill; and
- Are there supplies in both homes suitable to manage if someone becomes ill.
- Discussing how and who will talk to your children about the need for precautions in an age appropriate way – they need to be informed, not frightened;
- Be considerate and patient – this situation is extraordinary and requires compromises by everyone;
- Practice social distancing – if a child does not need to move between two separate homes, consider agreeing to let them stay in one home – agree to increase the use of telephone or video (Facetime or Skype) access and allow a make up period of contact in the other home once the urgency (or isolation period) ends.
While it may be hard to not see your children for a period of time, recognize that this is one of the most selfless acts you can do for your children. It is also not easy to be the full-time parent 24 hours a day, seven days a week – especially if your child or you become ill.
If you are involved in Family Court litigation at the moment, the suspension of Court operations will make it challenging, if not impossible, to address in Court poor co-parenting behaviour while it is occurring. However, that does not mean that the Family Court will just ignore such behaviour. As the situation returns to normal, how you behaved toward your children’s other parent(s) during this difficult time will likely be considered seriously by the Court when decisions around parenting, custody and access are made. Rather than arguing over parenting “entitlements”, this is a good time to look for safe ways to support each other as co-parents. Doing so will help you to get through this and perhaps end up as better co-parents afterward.