Pandemic Parenting Tips to Help Your Family
Going through a divorce is an extremely stressful time for a family. The Covid-19 pandemic has made the divorce process even more difficult for families as there is so much additional uncertainty on top of the changes that accompany the breakdown of the marriage. It is very important for parents to speak with their children about their feelings and mental health in an age-appropriate manner as the divorce progresses. Here are some of the best pandemic parenting tips we have heard from industry professionals on helping children through a divorce during Covid-19.
Plan Routine Check-ins with Your Kids
Schedule a consistent and reoccurring time to check-in with your children and provide them with your undivided attention to unload their feelings and seek support. Depending on your children’s age and maturity level, you may choose to do a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly check-ins. It’s a good idea to put this time into a family calendar at a reoccurring time so that it cannot be put off or missed. As well, try to schedule check-in times for each child individually as well as for group family meetings. This provide an opportunity for one-on-one time as well as family time to ensure everyone is being heard in a manner that makes them feel the most comfortable. Set ground rules for your check-ins. This may include the following:
- Discussions will be kept confidential within the family or between parent and child – unless otherwise discussed in advance;
- Rotate meeting responsibilities – ex: leader, timekeeper, secretary, etc.;
- Anyone can ask for a break at anytime if they need a time out; and/or
- Whatever other rules work best for your family.
Finally, ensure your children know that if they do not feel comfortable sharing with your or someone else close to them that you will help them seek out professional help. You may also want to post the children’s help phone information somewhere easily accessible in your home and let your kids know they can text or call anonymously at any time.
Demonstrate Healthy Habits
The Covid-19 Pandemic has created a whole new routine for ensuring our health and safety. The most notable changes are wearing masks, washing / sanitizing our hands and limiting our social gatherings. As a parent, your children look to you as a role model for this new behaviour. If you are consistent with complying with the new standards of health then this will make it much easier for your children to follow your lead.
Be Realistic About Financial Changes
The pandemic has had a great financial impact on all of us from losing jobs, reducing work hours, deferring mortgages and a general strain on our everyday needs. In some circumstances, child support may be impacted by the pandemic and may need to be reviewed as incomes change for either party. Try to be understanding with each other and remember that child support is for the needs of the children and both parties may need to be accommodating under these unique and temporary circumstances. As well, remember to never discuss child support with your children or use child support to influence your children in any way.
Follow Your Parenting Plan but be Accommodating to Unpredictable Changes
The Alberta courts have been encouraging all parents to follow parenting plans and court orders to the best of their ability while parenting during the pandemic. Justices / Judges are looking very disapprovingly at parents who try to use the pandemic to withhold children or make substantial changes to current court orders. As such, both parents should do their best to to follow the scheduled plan and ensure that any significant changes are noted as being short-term. If one party, or the children, are required to isolate due to illness or exposure, ensure that all parties are following the current guidelines in place by Alberta Health and provide flexibility to make up parenting time at a later date.
Avoid Media Overload
Endless hours of scrolling through Instagram, commenting on Facebook and watching the news can be incredibly draining. Ensure everyone in your family takes frequent media breaks. Also ensure your children feel comfortable asking you questions about what they see in the media or hear at school as often times they are exposed to information way above their ability to understand which can be extremely scary and overwhelming. A few tips for responsible media consumption:
- Make dinner a no cellphone or tv zone;
- Encourage your children to spend time together in the physical world – go for a family walk in the evenings or play a board game;
- Ask questions about what they have been learning about the pandemic in school and their opinions or their friends opinions on the current situation;
- Don’t leave the news on while getting ready in the morning or anytime when your kids are paying attention – focus on age-appropriate content during these times;
- Help your children find age appropriate resources if they show an interest in learning more about the pandemic.
If you are going through a separation and need legal advice, connect with us today.