Divorced parents, no matter their degree of conflict, often struggle with communication. Co-parents must determine how much communication is enough and what is too much. Then there is the question about what is appropriate to communicate about and what is not in regards to co-parenting. Without clear expectations one parent may feel as if they are being micromanaged.
The issue of communication is particularly problematic when the child is very young and all the details seem to matter. The examples below are relevant for parents with young children but not necessary for parents of older children.
- Naps: When did your child wake from a nap and how long did they sleep? While this is not relevant when dealing with older children it certainly becomes relevant when dealing with a preschooler or infant. Knowing what to expect when children are still struggling with sleeping through the night, issues with falling asleep and needing naps requires this information to be shared between homes.
- Diet: Is your child’s appetite different? When are solid foods going to be added to supplement the infants diet? If your child has food allergies, adding new foods needs to be shared with the other parent. Information about the introduction of a new food is also a way to create consistency across homes.
- Regularity: Knowing when the young child has changed his or her elimination patterns is important for parents with young children.
- Developmental Changes: Parents need to alert each other when a child seems ready to move from a crib to their first bed, when the child goes to bed, when the pacifier remains in the home, and when and how to begin potty training just to name a few examples. These important markers should be agreed upon and communicated.
- Medications: If you gave your child any medication including even an over-the- counter mediation, it is essential to share this information such as your child’s next scheduled dose when they will be with the other parent.
- Distress: Do you think your child might be teething or showing signs of distress? It is important to share observations so the other parent may watch for new information. This is particularly important when your child can not assist by telling you how they feel.
- New Experiences: Did you young child cry this year when they saw children on Halloween? Has your son started crying when you run the vacuum? New experiences, especially those that seem to upset your child, should also be shared in the parenting log.
- Accomplishments: Major success of any kind should be shared in the parenting log.Share things like: success with the potty today, she slept through the night, he found his toes today, she pulled up on the coffee table today, he took his first step, or she said “Momma!”
- Heads Up: When your child begins to walk and gets bumps and bruises on their legs or their head, the other parent should be informed in the log.
Due to the fact that your child can not communicate effectively yet, communication between parents is vital. Co-parents can become conflicted when trying to share too much information. Therefore, many divorced parents of an infant or toddler use a Parenting Log. This log could be as simple as a spiral notebook from the drug store. A parenting log allows you to keep up with the daily routines of young children moving across households. The notebook should remain in your child’s diaper bag.
Some additional tips include:
1. Write all important numbers on the inside front of the parenting log to include work/cell/daycare and the pediatrician.
2. Discuss and agreement upon expectations for the notebook with your co-parent.
3. Agree that no one removes the pages. (In case your situation may become adversarial neither of you will fear that the other parent is keeping pages to use against you.) In addition, number the pages.
4. In the front of the parenting log- list the topics that will be covered in the notebook. . Information that is relevant includes eating, changing and sleeping schedule including the types of foods your child ate, behavioral and health issues, medication information (what to take and when and any side effects), and discipline.
5. When you first pick up your child give them your full attention before reading the log. They should never have to worry about your reaction after reading the parenting log-keep reactions private even when you believe that they cannot understand.
Remember this is a unique and temporary situation. As your child gets older and can read, you should no longer use the parenting log as a means of communication. Revert to weekly email communications and reduce the amount of information shared. At each stage of your childs development things change and so should your expectations regarding communication expectations with your co-parent.
Widely known for her expertise in the area of divorce and the family, she provides training to educators, family law and mental health professionals, as well as “High-conflict divorce” and “Parenting Coordination”.She has trained parenting coordinators since 1997, and as a result, co-authored the first and only comprehensive model of parenting coordination. Respected in their field, Susan has conducted numerous seminars on the international, national, state and local levels on topics such as parental alienation and visitation refusal, interviewing children, therapeutic and supervised visitation and developmentally appropriate time-sharing plans.
She has been awarded clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is a member of multiple organizations including the Academy of Professional Family Mediators, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.Mrs. Boyan maintains a private practice in Georgia.
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