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Life as a Co-Parent During a Pandemicby Jennifer Olin on May 20, 2020
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story of #CreativityInCaptivity was originally shared by Charlottean Jennifer Olin. She shared with us her story of co-parenting during the COVID-19 outbreak. We share her unedited words here.
If there is one thing I will take away from life during a pandemic, it is the importance of fluidity, trust and communication as a co-parent. When nearly half of the parents in our generation are dealing with the daily struggles of co-parenting, nothing is as important as working together right now.
When Fred and I separated nearly six years ago, nothing was easy about the detour we were about to take. As though working through each other’s pain wasn’t hard enough, we were dealing with the people around us that were hurting, as well. As is true for most who make this incredibly hard decision, this also affects our parents, our families, our friends, and most importantly, our kids. I will always remember the day we sat at our kitchen table, looking each other in the eyes and making a promise that from that day forward, all the decisions we made would be in the best interest of our kids.
Each and every life change, house move, school choice, custody agreement – all of it would be made with one simple question at the forefront:
“Is this the best decision for our kids?”
Many times along this journey, the answer to that question has been, “No.” Still, it took asking the question aloud and talking it through in order to come to that conclusion. Because of that, there was always a chance that one of us would not get our way. Changing your mindset is not easy. It takes a lot of energy and a lot of brainpower. There are times that it does not seem fair.
Out of this exercise and consistency, we have two kids who have watched their parents work together, make decisions together and create a new life of love, kindness and safety.
Putting your own feelings of hurt aside takes work. I was lucky enough to have someone who wanted to get to that place and work just as hard to get there. After all, we were going to be in each other’s lives in a totally different capacity going forward, but that new reality was not going to let either of us miss the time we wanted and needed with our children. Scheduling times for communication to make camp choices; figuring out financials; handling custody changes; introducing new relationships; all of it is important.
There may have been a meeting or two that ended in tears (mostly by yours truly). But there have been many more meetings where I left feeling proud that both of us were willing to talk through the hard stuff so that we could enjoy the rest.
Putting in the Hard Word Has Helped
During this chaotic and exceptionally scary time, I could not be more grateful for the hard work we have put in. And although we have come face-to-face with trust many times before, we have never had to face trust like we are right now. For those who may just be starting your own detour – or even if you detoured a while ago but have not started the work – building trust where it may have been broken will not be easy. Necessary, but difficult.
- Is your co-parenting partner following the same social distancing expectations you hold in your own home?
- Should you be reconsidering your custody schedule during the pandemic?
- How will both families deal with reentry when it is allowed?
Are the decisions you are making the best ones for your kids? Only you (two) know the answers to these questions.
Talking through them may be one of the hardest conversations you’ll have to do. However, not only is it important, it is imperative. It is imperative for the safety of your children, the safety of yourselves as co-parents, and the safety of others.
There is no better time than right now to start rebuilding trust or creating even more trust where it may already exist. Turn your detour into a clear path. It will continue with you through this chapter and beyond, and as we all establish our new normals.
Fluidity, trust and communication should be our main practices as co-parents during this time.
“Turn your detour into a clear path.”