Many coParents unfortunately understand frustration when working with the other parent. Some coParents may usually be late for scheduled pick-up or drop-off.

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, as so often of late, the coParent is running late. How thoughtless! 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 chest grows tight and Pat senses the anger rising.  As Pat becomes aware of these symptoms Pat stops to think about what the emotional response is signaling.  Is “anger” the specific emotion Pat is feeling?

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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. 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 provide for a notification procedure when delays occur.


About Kathleen Bird

Kathleen Bird, JD is a mediator, parent educator, former judge, and family lawyer. Her book, Self-Centered Co-Parenting, is the result of her experience working with thousands of frustrated parents to find a self-empowering method for quality parenting and decision-making.