Article written by Gary Direnfeld
As if co-parenting isn’t difficult enough for many, this ongoing pandemic continues to stretch co-parenting concerns and relationships.
At first it was differences in terms of parents’ response to the pandemic. Now, regardless of different perspectives on public health directives, co-parents must manage the ongoing uncertainty of school. As well as issues of mental health.
It does well to remember that as challenging as managing the uncertainty of school and mental health issues are… It remains that parental conflict itself can contribute to the most distress and impact on a child.
To that end, parents should consider strategies and solutions that promote peace between themselves as much as address the needs of the child.
Key among those strategies will be flexible approaches to planning for changes in schooling. Ones that may require a return to online learning. Contingency planning can stave off unnecessary stress for everyone. Planning should involve due consideration to people beyond the immediate parents. Including other family, friends or even neighbours or school chums.
As for issues of mental health, much of these have arisen the result of uncertainty. As well as difficulty on the part of parents and children to adjust to change. All on top of accommodating different learning modalities in addition to social isolation.
Given our experience with the pandemic thus far, we can now anticipate these issues and likewise plan accordingly.
To the degree possible, conversations with your children to include them in planning, to survey preferences and include some of their preferences can help facilitate smoother transitions and responses to change.
So many of these concerns are beyond the ability of the law to provide relief apart from in the most challenging of situations to make extreme decisions. Those decisions are often met with disapproval by one or other parent. This increases mutual animosity exposed to the child, increasing concern for poor mental health outcomes.
If looking towards your lawyer to help resolve such issues, consider including them to help problem solve and generate solutions as opposed to simply using them for positional battles.
Play to an end game. Peace and wellness. With that, you best serve your children’s interests.
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 600 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.