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Why should my child go to childcare if I am available?

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

The main cause of co-parenting conflict is when a parent feels they are not getting enough time with their children.

They may have gone from seeing their kids every day and now have been relegated to once a week or every second weekend. They may have supplemental facetime chats with the kids but it just doesn’t feel the same as being with them physically to give them a hug and be part of their daily life.

So, it is no surprise that coparents can find themselves becoming dissatisfied and resentful that they are not considered a key role in their children’s lives.

Some coparents, when it is their allotted time with the kids and they need help to take care of the children due to work, social events or extra-curricular activities, they reach out to other sources of care rather than the coparent. They may have the kids looked after at day care, after school care, grandparents or friends. Meanwhile, the other parent craving more time with their children feels they should have the opportunity to look after the children.

So why doesn’t this happen?

A coparent may feel that they don’t want to have to see the other parent, or kids get to have time with the grandparents or that childcare provides social skills and early learning.

Children use to see both parents daily pre-separation, so it is a big adjustment and loss of quality time with the other parent. They may have had the other parent to talk to about their day, play with, have meals together or read a story at bedtime. Often, children don’t understand why the family don’t live together any more and hope their parents get back together. They just want everyone to be happy and not be fighting!

So, it is important to enable children to have each parent in their lives by looking at how life was pre-separation. What did the care of the children look like? What did the children enjoy doing with each parent? How often each parent spent time with the children?

The more the children see each parent, the less stressful and traumatic handovers are. If children have become use to not seeing the other parent so much, they become distressed when they leave the primary carer parent or they can become very upset to leave the parent they don’t see as often as before, as they know it will be a long time until they see them again.

The key is to map out what life use to look like pre-separation and what time was spent with the children to try to replicate that as much as possible post separation.

Some examples;

Example 1

Pre-separation - Parent A used to pick the children up from school each day and took them home, fed them and help them with homework.

Post Separation - Parent B placed the children in after school care in their parenting time.

Why couldn’t Parent A continue to pick the children up a few days a week, take them home, feed them and Parent B pick them up from Parent A’s place on their way home from work? The children may enjoy a couple of days at after school care but would continue to enjoy Parent A picking them up as was a well-established routine. It gives the children time with Parent A who they miss, who is available to do pickups as well as save money on after school fees. WIN/WIN for all.

Example 2 -

Pre-Separation - Parent B use to take their son to soccer training on Wednesday evening and to their Saturday game

Post Separation - Parent A has decided that it takes away time with their child on their parenting time so doesn’t want the child to do soccer when they have them.

Think of what the child would want, rather than it is ‘your’ time being encroached on. Either Parent B could pick up the child to take to soccer to continue that special time together at soccer and then drop them back to Parent A’s house afterwards or Parent A take the child to soccer to be involved in something the child enjoys. If Parent A does not want to go to soccer, they could negotiate that the 3 hours Parent B gets to take the child to soccer in Parent A’s time is granted 3 extra hours make up time that they get to have with the child to do something else. It enables the child to still go to soccer and either parent gets to spend 3 hours each having fun time with their child. WIN/WIN for all.

Example 3 -

Pre-separation - Parent A used to look after their pre-school child at home whilst Parent B worked full time.

Post Separation - Parent B placed the child in child-care in their parenting time.

The child was use to being with Parent A throughout the day and had an established routine pre-separation. Parents have a responsibility to ensure that children can adjust to the new family structure but still maintain similar routines. Parent B could drop the child at Parent A’s house on the way to work whereby the child stays with Parent A until Parent B picks them up after work to take to their home. The parents may decide that child care is good for the child once a week for socialising with other children. This enables the child to have consistent care from Parent A and save the family money on child care.

If families continue to maintain similar routines and meaningful relationships with both parents, children would thrive.

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator & Author

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