coParenting: The Importance of Sharing Information
Dear Dr. Jann,
My coParent NEVER tells me anything about our children. If the kids are sick, I don’t know until my next visit, which is every other weekend and each Wednesday night for dinner. I’d like to know how they are doing in school, but she won’t give me report cards or tell me when there is a student conference. She acts like the kids are only hers and I’m just there to send her a check. What can I do so she starts sharing more information with me?
Parents who are at odds often secretly feel that information is power. “I know more about the kids than you, so I’m the better parent.” The truth is, sharing information with the other parent, the better parent — and coParent — you are. When you don’t talk to each other, you are not putting the kids first.
If the kids are with mom the majority of the time, then she’s probably the one to take them to the doctor and dentist. Most parenting plans require the primary parent to inform the other parent of any appointments their child may have so he or she can attend the appointment as well. In this case, sharing information has to be an active, required part from your coParent. For example if you can’t attend — then the primary parent should keep you up to date of any changes in contact information for the professionals that treat your children — the follow-up is up to you.
In regards to schooling, coParents often complain that they are not informed about how their children are doing. However all schools have a website that announces special events, like Back-to-School Night or achievement awards ceremonies, and in this case, you don’t need to wait for your coParent to share information. Each year offer all your contact information, including email address, to your children’s teachers and check in periodically. Your children’s report card and attendance records can be easily forwarded via email. If you want to attend a parent/teacher conference, just ask. If you and mom are so estranged that you can’t go together, then set up one separately. Being proactive, if your coParent won’t cooperate, can be a little more work for you but at least you will be more informed and involved.
Ultimately, my wish for your children is that their parents put aside their differences and start working together — and this is to both you and your children’s mother: You may think you “win” when you withhold information, but the truth is, your children loose — so, that’s no win at all.