We include telephonic contact schedules in most parenting plans, allowing children to keep in touch with their other parent. In a recent case, telephonic contact became a contentious topic. Here are some thoughts.
- Children need a routine. Remember that it is a major adjustment for children to suddenly live in and travel between two homes. Open access to both their parents is also now limited. We cannot give them both parents under one roof, but we can stick a schedule on the fridge to let them know when and how contact will next occur – and then stick to the schedule.
- The interesting topic is that telephonic schedules often state Monday, Wednesday and Friday between this and that hour. Why is this? We are in other words saying to our children that they had open access to both parents before the divorce – now suddenly limited times. Will it not make the impact of our divorce less on our children if we do not have a ridged phone schedule? Will our children not be better off emotionally if they know that they can pick up the phone to call mom or dad at any time? Will parents not be better parents if they do not have to spend months/years fighting in mediation or court over times?
And then the grey areas
- It is hard to manage a two-parent household between 17:00 – 20:00 on school nights, harder for a single parent. Then to have the phone ring between 18:00 and 18:30 and homework, supper or bath must be stopped allowing the children to speak to their other parent. (Confusing the routine?) Understandably, the sentence “you cannot speak to the children now as they are doing homework” often rears its head. And in turn, this sentence often ends up in court or in nasty exchanges between parents via WhatsApp.
- What if a child achieves an A for a math test on a Tuesday? This is great news, but can only be shared tomorrow night between 18:00 and 18:30. Is this logical?
- A child’s right to privacy. Often a child is not “allowed” to have a private conversation with the other parent and the only answers will be “yes” or “no”. This does not constitute a meaningful conversation. In essence, phone times then become a stressful time for a child – attempting to manage both parents – rather than a happy time, talking to the other parent. This topic also often ends up in court.
So what would happen if we do not schedule telephonic times? Will we not have happier children and parents? Are we enforcing phone times in an attempt keep control?
Posted by CoParenting