The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented changes to daily life, and it remains a danger around the world. For co-parents who are struggling to get along, a time of crisis like this can enhance the contentious dynamics in their relationship. Not only does this add unnecessary stress in uncertain times, but it can also have a very negative impact on the children involved, who can and do pick up on the tension and discord between their parents.
Work together with your co-parent to help improve the co-parenting relationship now and moving forward, for the health and well-being of your children as well as yourself.
Minimize stress and improve your coping skills
Work on lowering your own stress levels and improving your coping skills so you don’t bring your own anxiety and stress into your co-parenting. There are many different ways to do this, from working out at home to trying yoga or meditation. Experiment until you find the outlets that work for you, and share them with your children where appropriate. Your children are feeling stress due to the pandemic, too, so any help you can give them is crucial here.
Make sure that emotionally-charged topics such as job loss fears, financial difficulties, the pandemic and the threat it poses to older family members, are not discussed within earshot of your kids. Children often strive to hear adult conversations, so don’t assume they can’t hear just because they are not immediately nearby. If your kids use devices, monitor that usage so they are not following adult news about the coverage constantly. The wave of negative news on adult media platforms can be difficult for children to process and manage.
If you are experiencing or have a mental health condition such as anxiety and depression, reach out to a mental health professional. Many of these professionals are still offering sessions using telehealth platforms, such as by the phone or video. Don’t be afraid to talk to trusted family members and friends during times of stress, too.
Work together and be flexible
Flexibility is often the sticking point for co-parents who are struggling to work together, but in times like this, it’s absolutely necessary for the sense of security and stability among your kids. A crisis introduces so many wrinkles into daily life that everyone will need to cooperate and be as flexible as possible to make things work in the new “normal.” Being flexible can be tough sometimes, especially when your co-parenting relationship isn’t very solid. Keep in mind what is best for your kids whenever a situation comes up that will require a little flexibility to successfully resolve, and encourage your co-parent to adopt the same approach.
It’s time to explore new ways of communicating with your co-parent so you don’t end up with the same poor results as before. What you will need to do depends on what your previous patterns were. Set topic ground rules, such as talking about the kids only, for example, if your conversations often descended into arguments over past wrongs in your relationship. If conversations by phone or in person go okay but texts seem to become a minefield in most cases, do not use texting to have parenting conversations going forward.
With all the dangers and uncertainties that the Covid-19 virus has brought to people around the world, at least one good thing can come out of it for co-parents who struggled to work together previously: a much stronger co-parenting relationship moving forward. Improve your coping skills, reduce your stress and work together with your co-parent to provide your children with the best environments possible during this time.