There are thousands of parents around the world currently sitting at their homes waiting.
Not waiting just to log onto a government website to try and register for a payment or to try and talk to someone about how COVID-19 has destroyed their lives.
Not waiting for yet another company’s well-meaning but annoying COVID-19, “we’ve got you covered” email to arrive in their inbox.
No. These parents are sitting at home waiting and wondering when they will get to see their children again following a separation or divorce.
Standard custody arrangements, for example, whether they involve alternate weekends or a ‘week on week off’ agreement, are just not working out around the world during the time of COVID-19. They can’t due to restrictions now in place.
COVID-19 as an Excuse for Parental Alienation
Some parents will have used COVID-19 to manipulate a situation to their advantage, depriving their children of being able to see their other parents for their own selfish reasons.
For parents living interstate away from their children, it is very common for school break time to be divided between parents throughout the year.
It is a chance for quality time to be invested by parents, children and any stepparents, into their family dynamic. It also gives the other parent with whom the children spend the majority of their time a bit of a break to be able to do their own thing.
These Easter holidays, no one is going to be benefitting from these types of arrangements with the upheaval now inflicted on all of us by COVID-19.
For example, border closures across Australia are being handled differently in each state and territory. In Western Australia, a hard border closure is now in place, meaning no one from the Eastern States is allowed to visit Western Australia.
And no one knows when it will be lifted.
While the Easter Bunny has been granted a special decree by the Premier to be able to cross regions, it is no comfort for the children who are unable to now travel into or out of Western Australia to see their other parents and family members.
Tasmania has also closed its borders. Both states are trying to take advantage of their natural isolation in stopping the spread.
Some states have regional travel bans within. People are not allowed to travel outside their designated region without an exemption for essential reasons.
No one is criticizing these actions. Far from it. The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped everyone in their tracks. So many people want to become exceptions to every rule ever implemented but this is one time where that isn’t being allowed to happen.
Adding to the complications, potential unknown exposure makes custody visits a high risk factor when it comes to containing COVID-19.
For the moment, as in the United States of America, for those dealing with trying to access to children across different states or different regions there is not much help at hand except for trying to take a step back and be as honest as you possibly can be.
Co-Parenting in the Era of COVID-19
Hopefully, given the world we now live in, during the last few weeks, no matter how bitter your split was or is, you have realized that it is now time to put differences aside and think of the children.
How do you now explain to your children or stepchildren that they cannot visit their other parent or their other family? Or that they can’t see their grandparents for a while?
There is no one answer fits all.
But the workability of any custody situation in this Coronavirus world should have opened everyone’s eyes that clear, straightforward communication is the key.
This is not a time for people to do what they want to do and simply ignore their court-issued parenting orders because they think it is okay to do so during this time.
It should not be about deliberately cutting out one parent simply to engage in a one upmanship battle which will backfire once this pandemic ends.
Children often sense the way adults are feeling and talking to them about what’s currently going, especially about confronting situations.
How to Course-Correct
Getting back to basics is not as difficult as you may think.
Parents should be putting aside their emotions to keep their children safe during this public health emergency.
Always remember that your ex is not the child’s ex.
It is up to everyone now to be the adult in the situation and think ahead during these coming months.
Be proactive and initiate contact between your child and the other parent, given the number of devices now available: FaceTime, phone calls, Zoom, the list goes on.
We might be in this for the long haul. Reinforcement of the basics needs to be continually repeated while distance divides us.
Depending on their ages, children’s questions should be answered by all parents and stepparents before they are even asked by the children.
Is my other family thinking of me? Will they still love me next time I see them? Will they have forgotten all about me?
You know what the answers are.
Let’s nail this around the world. Whether you are a biological parent or a stepparent, don’t let COVID-19 stop you from parenting as you know you should.
P.S. Looking for more info on COVID-19 and sharing custody? We’ve got you covered!