Co-parenting in the Frenzy of May
As Joanne dropped into bed, the events of the day swirled through her head. Joanne relived the nightmare of the emergency run back to the school to grab a forgotten backpack. Amidst the soccer and gymnastics practices–she barely made it before the custodian locked the doors. Just as she began to relax, her heart stopped.
They forgot the Skype call to Scott.
The late school run had pushed them home just in time for bed. The kids barely brushed their teeth before laying down. She had totally forgotten the mid-week check-in with their dad. And, had failed to let him know it wouldn’t happen.
Joanne checked her phone. Sure enough–it had exploded with texts from Scott. What could she do now?
May ushers in a season of frenzy. Just as schools gear up for a big finish, summer activities begin. Caught between both, parents drop balls.
Trying to live the frenzy from two houses, divorced parents feel the pinch even more. What can make the season better?
1) Create a common calendar.
Everyone needs the big picture. When both parents see the same information, they both understand the demands. Using apps such as OurFamilyWizard or 2houses.com help parents coordinate information, even when they don’t communicate well with each other.
As both check the calendars, they can work together to ensure children get everywhere they need to go. Even better, parents see the potential rough spots. They can anticipate when life will get in the way of parenting plans.
2) Assume the best, not the worst.
People generally divorce because they stopped trusting each other. That mistrust colors everything–often causing parents to see the other in the worst possible light. Sometimes this is warranted. Often it isn’t.
If one parent fails to meet a commitment, the other should first assume a legitimate reason.
Perhaps she didn’t respond to the text asking for a quick visit because she was mowing and didn’t hear it. Perhaps he was late to pick up the kids because construction caused a huge back-up on the highway. Perhaps the Skype call was missed because bedlam broke loose, and a parent forgot.
When parents give the benefit of the doubt, they begin to rebuild trust. Which makes working together easier. They ease the other parent’s load at a difficult time. They model for their children how to be understanding when someone lets you down. A particularly useful lesson for when parents mess up with their children.
3) Own failures.
Once Joanne’s heart began to beat again, she swallowed hard and picked up the phone. Knowing Scott was likely both angry and scared, she called instead of texting. Any parent would wonder why a commitment was missed. Not being able to get an answer only increases anxiety. Though texting would have felt safer, it left too much room for deeper misunderstanding. Scott needed a straight answer.
“Scott, this is Joanne. I’ve seen your texts and want to explain. Can you please listen? I need to apologize for not getting to Skype. The kids are fine, but we had a crazy night that went much later than I thought it would. Plus, I had to run to the school unexpectedly and in the process I forgot it was a Skype night. I’m sure you were worried and frustrated. I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up?”
When parents own their own failures, they diffuse the situation. More, when parents work hard to ensure mistakes don’t repeat, the other parent more easily trusts that the occasional glitches are truly glitches–not manipulation.
In a season of frenzy, both parents need the grace of each other to cover the inevitable dropped balls. That grace comes as parents plan ahead for the chaos, assume the other is doing their best, and are willing to take responsibility for their own failings. Parents who follow these keys help each other get through the frenzy–and make the season easier for both.
If you would like support in creating a healthy co-parenting relationship, call us at 317-599-7075 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com We look forward to serving you.