If you’re like many divorced parents, your primary interactions with your co-parent likely occur when you exchange your children as they move back and forth between homes. These exchanges may be the most dreaded parts of your week. Your children might have started to dread them as well.
Maybe your co-parent chooses this time to bring up everything that’s been on their mind for the past few days regarding your parenting, such as your failure to retrieve their skis from your parents’ vacation home or just what a poor excuse for a spouse you were. At least that’s what you’re afraid will happen — even if it’s not always like that.
Getting exchanges down to two minutes
One family therapist recommends getting these exchanges down to just two minutes. That way, as she explains, they take up only .0004% of your year. You spend far more time than that interacting with unpleasant co-workers, fellow soccer parents and relatives who are convinced that if they just talk long enough about politics at holiday gatherings, everyone will come over to their side.
So how do you limit the parenting exchanges to two minutes (or close)? Whether you’re the parent bringing your child to your co-parent or handing them over:
- Have your kids’ bags, books, school projects, sports equipment and other things ready to hand-off.
- Take care of any reminders ahead of time. Say “I love you,” “Be good” and so forth before you get to your co-parent’s home.
- Resolve not to talk about anything other than your child with your ex and not in a recriminating way. Avoid statements like, “Make sure she does her homework this time“ or “You forgot to pack her favorite doll again.”
Adjusting to custody transitions takes time
Maybe your co-parent isn’t as committed as you are to making these interactions as pleasant as possible for everyone. However, if you stay calm and don’t linger to hear more of their haranguing (or what feels like it), they’ll see that they’re not getting a rise out of you and likely stop.
Of course, it’s important to have a clear, consistent process for custody transitions. This can eliminate many sources of anger and frustration on both sides. If you’re still crafting your parenting plan or if you believe it needs some modification to provide more detail, consult with your family law attorney.