Shared parenting resources for coping during COVID-19 crisis

Separated or divorced parents normally grapple with countless issues, but the COVID-19 crisis means they face new difficulties negotiating shared care of children with the stress of balancing work, home, and home schooling adding an extra layer of pressure during lockdown.

Professor Daryl Higgins, Director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies at ACU, and his team have developed a series of new resources called Safeguarding children during COVID-19 to manage shared parenting across two households during COVID-19 and support children through the crisis.

A leading child protection expert, Professor Higgins said the resources were aimed at child protection and family service workers as well as separated or divorced parents.

“Helping every child have a safe harbour is always important, particularly where parents share caring responsibilities across two households due to separation or divorce,” Professor Higgins said.

“For children to thrive, they need calm reassurance from the adults around them. We have developed this resource to help navigate the choppy waters of co-parenting during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Tips include:

  • Talk to each other: Pick up the phone and talk to the other parent or try a video platform like Zoom, Skype or Facetime so you can pay attention to body language and facial expressions.
  • Acknowledge different views of risk: Many parents believe their way is the right way and fail to recognise alternatives. Consider that the parent with whom you disagree can also have the best interests of the child at heart and will not intentionally place them at harm.
  • Create new routines: Many routines have changed and may need to change again. Discuss transitions between households and prepare your children for hand-over as best as you can. Even where routines are different across houses, having stable, predictable routines is reassuring for children.
  • Practice kindness: The best lesson you can teach your kids is to model with the other parent how you would want them to treat others – their siblings, their friends, and even their future life partner.
  • Be flexible: Recognise that variations within an overall broad theme are fine. When it comes to new rules around personal hygiene, talk about different ways of achieving the same goal - whether it is using sanitiser or using soap and water for 20 seconds and singing happy birthday, the outcome is clean hands before eating or preparing food.

Safeguarding children during COVID-19 also includes links to resources from other organisations and Kids Central tip sheets for COVID-19.

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