Are you a co-parent? Then you know very well that the end of the school year and summer vacation are fast approaching with all the activities that entails.
It’s normal to feel a little stressed making the transition from the predictable schedule of the school to summer’s more relaxed pace. For divorced or separated parents, however, there is often added pressure as summer vacation forces parents to be in more frequent contact with one another.
In some families, moms or dads who live long distance may only see their children over the summer, meaning that intricate travel plans will need to put in place, emergency contact numbers exchanged, and homesickness dealt with. In other families, visitation plans could change with parents’ seasonal work schedules or changed availability to watch the children. In still other families, parents need to consult each other over such issues as whether a child will attend overnight camp or a day camp program. In addition to agreeing on a camp, parents may also find themselves haggling over who pays for camp, unless this is an issue already addressed in their divorce settlement.
Given these many scenarios that can take place, it may be wise for all involved if you and your former spouse take time to brush up on your co-parenting skills before the final school bell of the year rings. Got an unwilling ex? It’s always best to lead by example when it comes to positive co-parenting and eventually, you may have a willing follower.
Though you may have some thorny issues to address this summer, here are the basics of what it means to take peaceful approach to parenting when you’re divorced:
Make a plan: Before summer vacation starts, check out what your child custody agreement and parenting time plan already outlines about the coming months. Will your ex-wife have the kids for a week at the end of July for vacation? Did you request visitation on the 4th of July? Use these dates as the first part of planning for the summer. For example, if you know you have a long weekend with your child in mid-July, request now to take the day off from work, or make other arrangements.
Communicate directly: Good communication is the foundation to every successful relationship, and is important part of a healthy post-divorce relationship. Regular communication minimizes surprises and ensures you know what you need to know about your child’s life. If talking in person is too stressful, consider using email and a shared online calendar. Whatever you do, don’t ask your child to play the messenger on what’s going to happen over the summer. Children simply don’t need this kind of stress.
Keep it positive: Make it a rule to never speak poorly about your former spouse in front of your child, and avoid asking your child to take sides in a dispute. As experts in child psychology expound, children should feel free to love both of their parents equally and should never be made to feel badly about wanting to spend time with the other parent.
Summer vacation is short, but just a few simple steps can make it sweet for all of you!