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Stop contacting me, it’s my parenting time!

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

Are you constantly being bombarded on your parenting time with text messages asking “Are the kids, OK?”, “What did the kids eat?”, “Where are you?”, “What time did the kids go to bed?”, “Where have you been?”, “what did you do today?” ……….. and so on!

It can be very frustrating, annoying, and disruptive! Almost as though you are not trusted as a competent parent, continually being questioned about the wellbeing of the kids.

You may be called throughout the day with requests to put the kids on the phone so your ex can talk to them. Each time you might find the kids, hearing the voice of the other parent become unsettled, wanting to go back to the other parent’s house or seem to withdraw as they have been reminded that they are being missed and start to miss the other parent.

There are many parents who feel their parenting time is been disrupted due to constant calls or texts from their co-parent to find out if the kids are OK. You might be thinking “Of course, the kids are OK, they are with me” or “They never checked in to see if the kids were OK pre-separation when they were with me, why do it now?”

It’s almost as though the other parent is experiencing separation anxiety needing constant contact and reassurance that the kids are OK. They may feel at a loss without the kids, as they are usually always together. It may seem quiet and lonely without the laughter and shouting of youngsters echoing through the house. They may be worried the kids are distressed away from them and they are not able to comfort them. It’s important for coparents in non-parenting time to create a fulfilling life. When they are not with the kids, they should enjoy themselves by catching up with friends, go to the movies, browse around the shops, do some self-care, exercise, yoga, soak in a bubble bath, read a book, do a hobby or start a course. All these activities can be done, uninterrupted giving them ME time. Make the most of it!

You may not have the kids very often, so you want the time you have with them to be quality time, fun and engaging. The kids need to feel it is like a second home, where they can feel comfortable, relaxed and enjoy time with you. If they are constantly contacted and reminded that they are away from their other home they will continue to feel like a “visitor” at your place.

It's really important to manage the communication on each parent’s parenting time with respect, privacy and trust. Avoid escalating into conflict otherwise it will create more anxiety and stress for your coparent and will also create annoyance and frustration for you impacting the time you have with the kids.

Some parents try to accommodate their coparents contacting them. They might reply to every text and find that their replies become more agitated with ever increasing requests for more information. It is almost like the flood gates have been opened for a free for all, blow by blow detail of what the kids are doing. It continues until communication becomes combative as you feel your parenting skills are being critiqued with recommendations on how you should have handled situations or told how they would have done things differently. Ultimately, you feel you are on trial and the conversation becomes more and more disrespectful towards each other. Eventually, you may stop responding, angry they went a step too far resulting in the coparent trying to call you as they become more anxious about the children. Not only have your agitated texts become artefacts that can be used against you but now you are feeling stressed impacting your energy and vibe around the kids. The kids feel the tension. They know you were texting with the other parent and feel sad their parents are fighting…. AGAIN!

It's really important to set boundaries with compassion. The aim is not to increase your ex’s stress, your stress and ultimately the kid’s stress.

So how do you do that?

If you receive a text from your ex saying “How are the kids?” you should reply ONCE and ONCE ONLY. Reply with “The kids are fine, I will get them to facetime you at 6pm tonight” If your ex tries to call or text you further, do not respond. You have given them reassurance the kids are fine and that they will get to talk to them later to hear about their day. This sets boundaries that it is your parenting time in a polite, courteous way. Do this each day, reply ONLY ONCE, confirming kids are OK and they will call them later.

The result will be that the ex will refrain from continuously texting or calling as they know you will only respond once with confirmation the kids are OK and give them the opportunity to talk to the kids later.

Anxiety and stress are avoided for all and the kids get to enjoy their time with you.

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator & Author

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