Here is another really common co-parenting challenge: “Not allowing phone calls or communication with the other parent, while the child is away from them.”
The challenges that I have been highlighting over the last many weeks are in no particular order of importance. However, they are all very important because of how each and every one of them affects the child(ren), who are in the middle of separation or divorce.
Much of what parents do in their co-parenting could be gauged by their child(ren)’s needs. As an example, a weekend may be too long for a younger child to have no contact with their other parent, where an older child may be more adaptable to the circumstance of separation or divorce. This then becomes about applying “best interest” of your child(ren), to the topic of phone calls or communication with the other parent, while a child is away from them.
I see many couples who are under court order to allow phone calls or communication from their ex, with their child(ren), during time of visitation and/or other time away from a parent. When I explain to co-parents in my workshop the intent and purpose of the phone calls, or any communication for their child(ren), they have a better understanding. I explain that the phone calls are not intended to interrupt a child’s time with their parent. Phone calls, FaceTime, or video chats are for their child(ren) to still have a connection with the other parent while away from them.
Common in my workshop is the anger and emotion attached to a separation or divorce being in the way of the actual “best interest” of the child(ren) maybe needing that communication with their other parent while they are away. Sometimes the anger and emotion is in the way of even being able to come to an agreement about time for a call to take place, or maybe even how much flexibility is going to be used for setting up the standard of phone calls, Facetiming or video chats.
Just as it is maybe important for a child to have that communication with you while they are away, it is also important to remember that when the child is with you, they are also away from their other parent. In my workshop and in my co-parent coaching, I am the neutral third party that is not in the middle of that and so can think creatively about how to make this challenge become less of an issue for couples, and I can help parents create a plan that is respectable and workable for all.
Removing anger and emotion is key in not just trying to reach a goal of respectful and responsible co-parenting, but also for parents not letting this get in the way of best interest for their child(ren). For this challenge, the need may be different based on age, but does not mean that the communication for a child while away, is any less important.
Making a choice to meet the communication needs of the child(ren) is the goal, so that they are not paying the price for anger- and emotion-driven reaction and response to an ex.
I hope you all have a great week.
Kari Clemmer is author and instructor of The Co-Parenting Workshop and instructs co-parenting education in Dallas. Visit the Co-Parenting Basics Facebook page for more co-parenting information and live co-parenting lessons. Send questions to [email protected]