Concern over COVID-19 rightfully has people altering plans for visits with friends and family. To help safeguard everyone’s health, tough decisions may be in order. With families of divorce, those decisions can be especially challenging. On one hand, there’s the pandemic; on the other, there may be a court agreement mandating visitation between parent and child.
Good legal advice is best obtained from an attorney. Good parenting advice comes from considering a child’s whole health — mental, physical and emotional — and putting that wellbeing ahead of past injuries or petty disputes with the child’s other parent.
Think about how inventive we’ve become in devising alternatives to in-person meetings: In addition to texting and good old-fashioned phone calls, we have ZOOM, FaceTime, “Netflix parties,” drive-by visits between students and teachers, and more. When we want to connect, we find a way that’s safe and responsible.
That inventiveness should extend to children of divorce, whose health is nourished by contact with a loving parent. Deprivation of that contact can have severe, long-lasting effects.
Where parents of divorce and separation go tragically wrong is when they use COVID-19 as an excuse to prohibit any contact between children and their other parent. Using the pandemic as a weapon to punish your ex or further his or her erasure from a child’s life has no positive outcome for anyone in the family.
Children of divorce and separation need their parents to act like adults and not like bickering children themselves. They especially need this during a crisis.
And let’s not forget that even the best ZOOM call is no substitute for a hug from Dad or Mom, and while texting “I <3 U” is nice, it’s not the same as hearing Dad or Mom say those words in person, even from behind a mask.