A-Z of Parenting Tips
TWO Parents. TWO places. Many possible problems.
The A-Z of day-to-day issues parents may face when children live in two households.
The A-Z topics discussed are for families where there is shared parenting [not necessarily equal time arrangements], where the parents are working together and want to minimise the challenges and conflicts that they [and their children] may face.
This information is not meant to cover the big ticket items – like who your child will live with or arrangements for spending time with your child. This is about the everyday issues that all parents deal with, but, when you are parenting children who live in two households, can become more of an issue.
This week we look at the first 8 topics covered in A to H.
A – Animals. If your kids are pet lovers or you have pets you may need to discuss with the children that each house may have different pets, or one house may not have pets at all. You may also want to talk about who will look after the pets when one parent is away and if the other parent [and children] can help out with that.
B – Birthday parties. Yours and theirs. As your children get older arrangements for birthday parties will change. Having your children at your birthday is something you can arrange and hopefully co-ordinate with the other parent. Your children’s birthday celebrations can hopefully be an event planned jointly. From the theme, to the venue, to the invites, to the cost and the present – there is often a lot to consider. The earlier the better to start the planning, and don’t forget to involve the birthday child they usually have some fixed ideas of their own !
C – Changeover . We all know this should be as seamless and stress free as possible. Over time it may be that the changeover location or time will need to change. Always consider these arrangements from the children’s point of view. Whilst changeover at McDonalds might be ok when they are 5 years old, it may not be quite so great when they are 15 years old.
D – Documents. Birth certificates, passports and any other form of original and important document. If one parent keeps them, the other parent should have a copy; or maybe each parent keeps some of the documents. It is important that both parents know where the original documents are and how they can be accessed if needed.
E – Exercise. Being healthy and active isn’t only something to consider as you get older. Young children should be encouraged to be involved in sports, organisations and clubs. Parents should discuss what is available locally for their children to enrol in as well as the cost and how they can arrange for the children to get to the practise, games, matches and other events, so that the children are truly included in the activity.
F – Food. This is always going to be different in each house from the type of food, to the timing of meals and what goes into the school lunch box. If the children have certain intolerances or preferences it is helpful if both houses have suitable foods [eg. gluten free or lactose free]. If your children struggle with eating dinner later in the evening then this should be discussed to see if generally a meal time can be set eg, between 6pm – 7pm.
G – Grandparents and other family members. Ensuring the children have relationships with both extended families is important. To facilitate this, parents may need to be flexible with changing the time they have the children to enable them to attend an important family gathering. Cultural, religious and traditional occasions should be accommodated wherever possible with make up time offered to the parent who is not spending that time with the children.
H – Heart to heart talks. As children get older the conversations you have with them will become a little bit more complicated and perhaps [for the children] a bit embarrassing. Don’t shy away from having these awkward conversations. If both parents are raising these issues with the children then they will hopefully feel comfortable continuing these conversations as they get older. Keep the channels of communication open. If you are not engaging in conversation with the children about the day to day stuff that is going on in their lives, there is little chance they will talk to you about the big stuff.
Consistency. Consideration. Communication. These are the keys to successful co-parenting.
Joelene Nel is a family lawyer and mediator at McLaughlins lawyers with more than 15 years experience helping parties resolve matters after separation. As a mother of two children, and after her divorce, she used these tips to co-parent with the children’s father.
If you are finding it difficult to reach agreement with the other parent about arrangements with your children, Joelene can act as a mediator and help parents reach agreement about family matters. You can call Joelene on (07) 5591 5099 to discuss your family law matter.
Keep an eye out for our next blog featuring further tips for Post Separation Parenting.
Click here to watch our Vlog on this topic.
Author: Joelene Nel
Director: Sophie Pearson
Date: 12 August 2021