No doubt about it – it has been a weird week.
COVID-19 has disrupted our lives. We’ve added new vocabulary like “social distancing,” and toilet paper and hand sanitizer have become currency. Flexibility and communication have become important tools. Like you, I’ve had to adjust my movements and the way I work. It has been a scary and confusing time. Sometimes information has been in short supply, not available at all or changing quickly. We’ve had to make decisions in the moment with incomplete information based on what’s best for us. Sometimes those decisions are not popular. Or easy. Clear communication and cooperation has been more important than ever!
During times such as these families have additional challenges:
Maybe you are teleworking. Or have school-age children home for an extended time and daycare is an issue. Or college-age kids home doing distance learning (and eating you out of house and home!). Perhaps you’re worried about the stock market and its impact on your retirement account. Perhaps you have family members at risk for virus exposure and illness. Maybe you can’t work and money will be tight. The list of worries and stressors goes on and on.
Now, imagine you are a family in transition or a divorced family in this crisis time. What type of co-parenting relationship would you like to have? Would you like to be able to talk rationally to your co-parent in this crisis time? Would you like to be able to evaluate the risks and make good decisions for your children together? Cooperate with each other in order to get your college-age children home? Arrange daycare coverage for your school-age kids who are now home?
If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve met our Modern Family and have seen they had a contentious divorce, but after their Day of Reckoning (day-of-reckoning.html) decided they needed to work together in a more harmonious way for the good of their children. After the divorce Modern Family Dad purchased a vacation home in the country. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak he decided to retreat to this rural location for some “social distancing” and remote telework. When schools closed, the two Modern Family college-age children bunked there for a while with him. Additionally, Modern Family Mom and Dad were in constant communication about the status and safety plan for all their children as the crisis unfolded. In fact, Modern Family Dad invited Modern Family Mom, her Husband, his Darling Daughter, and all the Modern Family Children to join him and his guest at his rural retreat for the duration of the crisis. This kind of ongoing cooperation and communication is an outgrowth of intentions they set in motion for the good of their children.
How can mediation help?
Being a divorced family can be challenging under normal circumstances. Extraordinary circumstances, whether a national crisis like a pandemic, or a family crisis, will be an additional challenge for a divorced family. These circumstances will require increased cooperation and communication. If the ego of the adults is engaged, rather than the best interest of the children, it is a recipe for disaster. Deciding what type of co-parenting relationship you want to have from the beginning will set you up for success in the day-to-day and in times of crisis. Mediation allows you to create the Parenting Plan that suits your values and needs and build a solid co-parenting relationship. For now, stay home, stay flexible, and wash your hands!
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