We are currently trying to figure out what our new normal is. Every day the people around us are trying to navigate an increasingly uncertain reality where we need to figure out what is safe and best practice for those we most care about. The challenges are increased for those families who are divorced or separated and sharing custody of their children. What is the best practice when children typically move between households? How do we keep things as “normal” as possible during these times where it feels like “normal” doesn’t exist anymore? We recognize the additional strain this puts on families and are here to support you and offer some tips to help keep your family situation from adding to the stress and anxiety many folks are already experiencing.
Think Big Picture:
Remember, children are just as uncertain and in many cases more frightened than adults about what is going on. Therefore, it is vital that adults be mindful of their tone and language when communicating with each other. Hearing their parents argue about who is maintaining custody during this trying time will only add to the uncertainty and fear children are experiencing. As families try to navigate changes in schedules, we acknowledge that no parent wants to lose their time with their children. It is essential to have that conversation via telephone now, that outlines how parents can make up time with their children over the summer if the children end up spending more time with one parent during this situation. A modified schedule is something that can be worked out between the parents that honors school and work closures and keep the children healthy and safe.
Think Transparency and Compliance:
If you live in a situation where you and your partner are able to still maintain your current custody schedule (i.e. you live in the same town, work schedules aren’t compromised, etc.) it is important to make sure that you are clear and transparent about any potential exposure to illness you or your children may have experienced. Additionally, talk about it now in regards to what your plan will be if one of your family members does get sick. Figuring out the logistics now will help to alleviate stress and anxiety should your situation worsen. By honoring your region’s advice about social distancing and self-isolation will help to lessen your chances of exposure, and let your children know that both of their parents did everything correctly to try to keep them safe.
If your new normal is not an ideal situation for you and things do change for your family, it is an opportunity to get creative to make sure that the children can still have some interaction with both parents. Things such as family group chats, FaceTime conversations and virtual group Netflix movie nights are all opportunities to try to support the family spending time together. These alternate ways of “hanging out” acknowledges that while in-person contact may not be possible, time can still be spent together and mental wellness can still be monitored by making sure family members still have an opportunity to see and speak to one another; even if that is electronically instead of physically.
Times of adversity allow us opportunities to practice patience, compassion, flexibility, and kindness. We know divorce and custody are stressful in themselves, the added pressure of the current situation is bound to increase tensions. The knowledgeable and compassionate team at Sinatra Legal are here for you to support you with any questions or uncertainties you have during the COVID-19 crisis. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/