2020 was a year for the history books. It has had a huge impact on how we live our lives, in ways most of us had never imagined. Parenting children in the age of COVID proves to be challenging even in an intact family. Add in separation and divorce and the areas of conflict increase exponentially.
Whether your divorce has been settled for a while, you are in the beginning stages or you are nearing the end of difficult decision-making about your children and your financial futures, adding in living through a pandemic makes an already emotional process that much more difficult.
You may have depended on the divorce to provide some distance between you and your ex-partner or have had the privacy to live your lives separately for some time. Maybe you have been able to interact in a civil and friendly manner when making decisions about your children. During COVID, this may have been tested. Perhaps you have already had some strife in how to manage your new lives.
It has become apparent that sharing children when living in separate households, makes privacy a difficult thing to maintain as anyone you each have in your lives is someone you are both exposed to through your children. While you do have separate lives, you may also want to know who you each have contact with, however much you would rather not do so. It is something to add to the list of things no one likes about living through this pandemic.
In addition, you may have different ideas about what feels safe in terms of activities, for yourself or your children. One of you may think flying (with or without children) is within the bounds of safety while the other parent might think otherwise. One of you may think sending your children to school is a good idea, while the other parent might not. These are often stressful conversations and trying to convince each other of what is the right decision could easily create tension.
Are there neutral sources to consult in order to determine a best path? While the information changes with new understanding of how the virus operates as well as the increase or decrease in the number of cases, there are government websites to turn to. The federal government, through the Center for Disease Control
is a good place to start. Then look at the state guidelines and regulations at
Your county may also have information about what is required. Lastly the cities you live in, whether the same or different from each other, have websites to consult. While this is potentially a lot of information to look through, you may both want to look for the information that is the most conservative in order to have an external decision-making process, when you are not in agreement.
Most important is the idea that both of you are the primary decision-makers for your children. They depend on both of you to take care of them, make sure they are safe and to keep them out of the disagreements you have with each other. Finding a way to do this, sometimes with an external source to help, could make all your lives a bit easier at a time when lives are not necessarily easy. Use these sources to reduce conflict related to parenting in the age of COVID.
Dr. Shendl Tuchman is a psychologist working with clients in Alameda, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties. At this time, all appointments are through Zoom. More information in her bio on the “Find A Professional” page.