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Hi, my name is Crystal Smith. I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor with Thriveworks and I’ve been asked to spend a couple minutes today addressing the question, “How can I best co-parent with my ex during COVID-19?”

I think this is a really important question and I’m glad to spend a few minutes addressing it. My first suggestion is approaching your ex with patience, understanding and mindfulness. This can be very challenging. However, when we come into conversations open to hearing what the other person has to say and curious as to what their thoughts are, we can reach compromise much quicker. Your list of items that your ex needs to know will be addressed and they’ll be in a better frame of reference to hear what you have to say if you start the conversation open to their ideas.

My second suggestion is being mindful of keeping conflict away from the children. Kids are already feeling an extra elevated level of stress with school being canceled, extracurricular activities being canceled and not being able to participate in their normal routine with friends. We don’t want to add to that anxiety by letting them be a part of mom and dad’s conflict.

Addressing conflict with your ex via text or email oftentimes is easier than face to face. As with text and email, we can keep it to the facts and keep tone and inflection out, which can be very helpful and not over-reading what the other person is saying.

Another suggestion I have is recognizing what we can control and what we cannot control. The schedule at your ex’s might be different than the schedule at your house and that is okay. Without a pandemic, I imagine the schedules are a bit different. Children need to know what is to be expected in each home, even if it’s not the same.

When the child is in your home, make sure to include time for academics, for fun and for family. This is a unique opportunity for the world to slow down and for us all to spend extra time together. Use that time to build memories even if it’s challenging.

The last suggestion I have is being mindful of your own emotions. As parents, our job is to help our children to the best of our ability. And when we’re feeling depressed or anxious, it can be a little bit challenging to be present for our children. Please use the resources you have. Reach out to friends and family. Ask for support. Let them know when you’re struggling. Sometimes just a good laugh and a little bit of venting can go a long way and lifting our mood.

If you’re finding that’s not enough, please call Thriveworks. Reach out for professional counselor’s help. We can do this via telehealth and there’s opportunities to schedule appointments from morning through evening. I hope that these suggestions are helpful and that you enjoy the time you have with your children during this unique quarantine. Take care.