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Disputes between co-parents common during summer months

After a long nine months of school, homework and hectic schedules; many school-age children look forward to the freedom and fun the summer months afford. For working parents, however, it can be challenging to keep a child stimulated, busy and out of trouble during the summer; leading many to rely more upon a co-parent to also provide a child with supervision and entertainment. As children shuttle back and forth between parents, disputes may erupt.

Often these disputes arise when divorced parents have differing opinions about rules, schedules and safety. While it can be difficult, divorced parents should do their best not to argue in front of a child. This is especially true when the argument relates to the child. Take this example. During the school year, nine-year-old Charlie spends the majority of his time with his mom. However, during the summer months, Charlie spends more time with his dad who is a teacher and has the summer off.

Charlie’s mom is a big believer in routines and ensures Charlie wakes, eats and goes to bed at fairly set times. His dad, however, isn’t too keen on routines and allows Charlie to stay up until he’s tired, sleep in late and eat when and what he wants. He also allows Charlie to participate in activities that his ex-wife believes are unsafe. After spending a week with his dad, Charlie becomes defiant when his mom tries to enforce her normal rules.

Frustrated and angry, Charlie's mom confronts her ex-husband when she drops Charlie off and rattles off a list of her complaints about his parenting style and lack of schedules, discipline and safety. Feeling attacked, Charlie's dad goes on the defensive and launches his own personal attack on his ex-wife.

The result? Everyone is hurt and upset and Charlie feels responsible for the conflict between his parents. Co-parenting isn't easy. It requires maturity, understanding, acceptance and mutual respect.

In cases where a parent's attempts to cooperatively co-parent have proved unsuccessful and he or she believes a child is being harmed or in danger, it's wise to consult with a family law attorney who can provide advice and assistance about child custody matters.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Survival Guide for Visiting Kids aka Co-Parenting Etiquette 101: One Dozen Tips," Tara Fass, July 7, 2014

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