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Children are not a rental video to incur a late penalty fee!

Some coparents watch the clock and feel ripped off if their coparent got stuck in traffic resulting in the kids arriving 30 minutes past the handover time. So, they request a penalty of makeup time, so they are reimbursed with extra time!

Conversely, they may find they have to sit in the car out the front of the coparents house as traffic was light and have arrived 10mins early for pick up, but the coparent won’t release the kids until the designated time of handover!

These scenarios are likened to the days when rental videos had to be back by a specific time otherwise a late penalty fee would be applied, or you may be sitting in the car awaiting the video store to open at exactly 9am so you can drop off the video on your way to work to avoid a late fee.

Kids are not rental videos that you have had your designated ‘hire’ and have specific times to drop them back to avoid incurring a late penalty.

Think back to the times pre-separation, as a parent you weren’t on a stopwatch to get the kids home by a certain time. Nor were you told you have had more than your share of time with the kids. Nor were you told you owe the other parent extra time with the kids!

So why post-separation are the kids being pulled between both parents like a tug of war between two children squabbling over a toy saying, “it’s my turn”.

How do you think the children feel with the stress and anxiety overflowing onto them in a parent’s haste to rush them back to the other parent’s home to avoid being late?

Maybe they have been sick at school whereby the parent who was going to pick them up at 3pm for changeover has been notified by the school to collect the child early at lunchtime as they are unwell. When the coparent finds out, they claim that it was on their parenting time, even though they weren’t with the child, but requests that 3 hours makeup time is granted as the other parent gained 3 extra hours they shouldn’t have had!

Amidst the petty squabbling over the children, the coparents are not thinking rationally to put the children’s emotional wellbeing first!

How would a child feel if they only had 10 minutes to go of watching a movie when suddenly the TV is shut off and they are rushed out the door to changeover to avoid being late?

How would a child feel who is feeling sick at school and just wants to go home to bed, hears the other parent is angry that the coparent picked them up instead of the school calling them to pick the child up in their parenting time, only to be re-shuffled to the other house a few hours later when they may be disturbed out of a recovery sleep?

How would a child feel if they have been invited to a friend’s birthday party whilst at one parent’s house but the other parent says “no they can’t go” as it will be in their parenting time?

Too often coparents get caught up in a battle over the children and not provide the flexibility and cooperation they once had pre-separation which now creates conflict and tension in day-to-day life.

If you are having issues in your coparenting and need help to improve communication, to reality test situations or resolve day to day disputes, engage a Parenting Coordinator. They help you to coparent successfully, reducing stress not only for the children, but for both coparents too!

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator & Parenting Coordinator

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