Are you concerned that your co-parent is infringing on your parenting time? Knowing what steps to take to protect your rights as a parent can be difficult, especially when your co-parent is high-conflict.
We will discuss some of the signs that your ex is infringing on your parenting time and what steps to take to diminish these behaviors.
7 Signs They Do Not Respect Your Child-Parent Relationship:
1. Scheduling All Dr or Therapy Appointments On Your Time
As a co-parent, it is important to be respectful of each other's time and scheduling needs. However, it can be frustrating when one co-parent consistently schedules all doctor or therapy appointments during the other co-parent's time. This not only makes it difficult for you to have quality time with the children, but it also creates tension in the co-parenting dynamic.
If this is a recurring issue, it is important to discuss it with your co-parent in an effort to come to a mutually agreeable solution. One option may be to alternate the scheduling of appointments or to set up a shared calendar where both co-parents can see and add appointments. By working together, co-parents can ensure that everyone's needs are respected and that their child receives the best possible care.
2. Calling The Children Multiple Times A Day
Child-parent phone calls are a part of the co-parenting process. However, this doesn't mean your co-parent call all day long to see what the children are up to. Not only is this invasive of your time, but usually a sign of a bigger problem like control or using the children as an emotional support system.
If this is something that is happening in your home, it is important to set communication boundaries for call times. With a little bit of negotiation, it is possible to maintain healthy co-parenting communication and parent-child call schedules.
3. Plans Activities For The Kids During Your Parenting Time
As a co-parent, it is important to communicate with your ex about plans for the kids. However, sometimes exes can consistently make plans with the kids or for the kids that infringe on your parenting time, like hobbies, activities, events, classes, etc. If your co-parent tries to control all of your parenting time by booking out the kids, it can be frustrating and damaging to your relationship with your child because you’re constantly shuttling them around and unable to spend quality time together.
While it is important for the children to have activities, they should not all fall on one parent’s parenting time. Both parents are responsible for taking kids to their activity during their scheduled parenting time and should not leave it up to one parent to sustain their social development and extracurricular activities.
4. Drops Off Unnecessary Items To The Kids
Most co-parents find themselves in at least one drop-off scenario over the course of their parenting time. One parent drops off unnecessary items at the other parent's home, and this often infringes on the other parent's time with the kids. It might be a pair of extra shoes that were left at the last visit or a favorite toy that was forgotten. Whatever the item is, it's typically something that the child could have easily gone without. And yet, for some reason, they feel compelled to drop it off and show up unexpectedly.
Whatever the motivation for dropping off unnecessary items, typically a form of control, it's important to set boundaries with your co-parent to reduce discord and protect your privacy. If you don't want your co-parent coming by your house unannounced, make it clear that you prefer to communicate through text or email prior to showing up at each other's residence. And if you need to exchange items, schedule a time to do so or establish a list of urgent and non-urgent items the children need on a weekly basis. By setting boundaries, you can minimize disruptions to your parenting time and avoid drop-off issues altogether.
5. Send Messages Telling You How To Parent When You Have The Kids
It can be frustrating when you have the kids and you get a message from the other parent telling you how to parent or spend your time with the children. It can feel like they are overstepping on your parenting time and trying to coercively control what you do. However, it is important to remember that you are co-parents and that both of you have a vested interest in the well-being of your children, even if you have different parenting styles.
If the other parent sends you a message telling you how to parent, try to see it as an opportunity to open up a dialogue and understand your opposing perspectives. What do each of you value about your perspectives on clothing, activities, education etc. The more you discover, the better off you are in positioning a solution or setting a boundary. By working together, you can ensure that your children have the best possible support.
Also, keep in mind a co-parent who constantly messages you during your parenting time may also need communication boundaries established. Belittling your parenting or creating emotional reactions could simply be because they are projecting their own personal struggles onto you. It’s important to be aware of their patterns and behavior so you don’t get sucked into their circular conversations.
Communication boundaries may look like certain days of the week you correspond, how many messages each parent is allowed to send, and what time frames are appropriate. You are essentially creating your co-parenting hours of operation just like a business would.
6. Dropping The Children Off Late Or Picking Them Up Early
As any co-parent knows, maintaining a consistent schedule can be a challenge at times. However, when one parent drops the children off late or picks them up early without notice on a consistent basis, it can be a major inconvenience for the other parent. Not only does it disrupt the schedule, but it also infringes on the amount of time that the other parent is able to spend with their children.
In some cases, it may even result in the other parent having to miss work, cancel plans, or the children skipping out on activities. While last-minute changes can happen from time to time, it's important to request as much notice as possible for schedule adjustments to avoid infringing on your time. A co-parent who continues to neglect the parenting time schedule shows little respect for the co-parenting relationship or your time with the children.
The co-parenting relationship is a business-like relationship with firm boundaries around time, communication, and mutual respect for each parent and the children.
7. Convincing The Child To Express They Want To Stay With Them
There may be times when one parent wants to keep the child longer than the agreed-upon parenting time schedule. If this happens, it is important to have a discussion with the other parent and request additional time in advance or schedule changes.
In circumstances, where a child is supposed to go to your home but your co-parent has convinced the child to stay with them longer this is a sign of emotional manipulation of the child. Sometimes the child will be forced into relaying messages like “I want to stay with dad/mom longer” or “I don’t feel like coming over today”. This can leave a long-term impact on your child-parent relationship and places the child in the middle of co-parenting discord forcing them to choose between their parents. Instead, both parents will need to honor the parenting plan unless additional agreements have been made and approved by both parents.
What Actions To Take:
1. Set Boundaries
Co-parenting boundaries create clarity and collaboration in the co-parenting relationship. They provide a clear roadmap to operate by helping to reduce conflict and create mutual respect amongst co-parents so the child doesn’t get stuck in the middle. Putting the child first means respecting each parent’s parenting time.
2. Hire A Co-Parenting Coach
If your co-parent is high-conflict then hiring a neutral party can be your best advocate in creating mutual agreements. This reduces the Me vs You power struggle and creates alignment for co-parenting success. Sometimes a few shifts in communication are that is needed to get things back on track.
3. Go To Mediation
When one co-parent has lost all sense of respect for the parenting plan or insists on causing the child distress and putting them in the middle, it may be time to update your parenting plan with firmer boundaries. Mediation is a great way to stay outside of the courtroom and quickly resolve differences and create mutual agreements in the best interest of the child.
4. Call A Lawyer
The last resort in this situation is to hire a lawyer. While some co-parents may falsely believe they are above the law, they aren’t and you have parental rights. When a co-parent refuses to respect your relationship with your children, it may be time to renegotiate parenting time or hold them in contempt for refusing to respect your parenting time.
If you are currently in a situation where your co-parent isn’t cooperating, please set up a discovery call to see how we can help.