Difficult Exes and Child Exchanges
Many coParents, unfortunately, can relate to the frustrations of working with the other parent. Those with a difficult ex, are in an even more high-conflict, draining position. One of the most common conflicts between coParents is the coParent that is always late for scheduled pick-ups or drop-offs. Not only is this annoying, but this greatly affects your children who have gotten used to mom or dad constantly being late or even missing exchanges! Take for example the following scenario:
Pat is waiting in the parking lot at a fast food restaurant for the coParent to arrive with their child for a scheduled exchange. Once again the coParent is running late. “How thoughtless!” He thinks. The time specified in their parenting plan for the exchange comes and goes. Pat tries to be patient, but as the minutes pass, Pat’s head starts pounding. Pat’s chest grows tight and Pat senses the anger consuming him. As Pat becomes aware of these symptoms, Pat stops to think about what the emotional response is signaling.
Pat decides to evaluate this further. For one thing, Pat feels disrespected because the coParent is not taking care to be more punctual. Pat has other things to do beside wait on the convenience of the coParent and it is very difficult to make plans around their child exchanges. The coParent’s disrespect is also irritating. What needs are not being addressed? Pat is interested in having a predictable time for exchanges. That would be some acknowledgment that Pat’s time is valuable too. Reflecting further, Pat also realizes that there is an undercurrent of fear. Has there been an accident? Has the coParent decided to withhold the child and not make the exchange?
What Pat needs is more information and reassurance that exchanges will take place. From this internal conversation, Pat determines to think about ways to increase the predictability of exchanges, reduce delays, and the need for better communication when delays occur. For Pat’s coParent, they must realize that raising their child is based on teamwork and that neither parent’s time is less valuable than the other’s and working together will strengthen their child’s sense of security and wellbeing.
A lot of coParents end up in court over this specific issue and a judge will order them to document their exchanges by buying a coffee or an item at the exchange location so they can bring it back to court to prove they were on time and at the location. This not only wastes time but a lot of money that could be better spent on your children.