Communicating with your child when they’re with your co-parent

When co-parents first start sharing custody of their children, one of the most difficult parts is being away from them for a day or more at a time. Staying in communication with your child while they’re with their other parent is important for both of you.

However, you need to do that without going overboard and infringing on their time with your co-parent. Just because it’s easy to keep a regular text conversation going, that doesn’t mean you should. Before you pick up your phone, ask yourself if it’s necessary and how you’d feel if your ex did that while your child was with you.

Setting some guidelines

The best way to ensure consistent communication for both parents while their child isn’t with them is to set some rules. This can be done in the parenting plan. You can include provisions like:

  • How many times per day a parent can reach out while the child is at their other home (excluding true emergencies)
  • How the communication will be done (video calls, texts, emails and so forth)
  • If the communication needs to be facilitated by the parent who’s caring for the child (which may be necessary if they’re too young to have their own electronics)
  • If there are certain times when a call is expected (like before school or at bedtime)

If your child will be away for a longer visit, such as a vacation with their co-parent, you might want to make different arrangements – particularly if they’ll be somewhere without consistent WiFi service.

Should there be rules for your child?

You probably shouldn’t forbid your child from texting you regularly while they’re with your co-parent. However, if they are, remind them that this is their time to be with their other parent, and they should direct their questions and issues to them. This reinforces to your child that you trust your co-parent and stand by their decisions.

By having a regularly scheduled call with your child every day, they’ll know they’ll get a chance to share anything they want with you soon. You can put these calls on your shared calendar.

Adding some communication provisions like these to your parenting plan can help you and your co-parent establish expectations for yourselves and your child.