If you and your co-parent are still struggling to get through drop-offs and pick-ups of your child without an argument breaking out, you’re not alone. These exchanges can be strained, at best, (and combative, at worst) if a break-up has been particularly difficult.
They may be the only time you see each other anymore outside of your attorneys’ offices or a courtroom. There are likely to be some unresolved issues – both emotional and practical. If you can’t muster a friendly exchange just yet, you can at least strive for an exchange that’s peaceful and civil. Here are a few ways to achieve that.
Keep it brief
Don’t engage in any discussion with your co-parent that doesn’t involve your child’s immediate needs. Focus your attention on your child – either greeting them or saying goodbye.
If you’re the one dropping off, don’t prolong your goodbye to your child. If you have things to remind them about, do it on the way to your co-parent’s. Sure, it feels good if your child is sad to leave you but encourage them to have fun. It helps to let your co-parent see you do that.
Allow yourself a little extra time
While you don’t want to stay any longer than necessary when you drop off your child, it’s best to allow for the unexpected in getting there, like unusual traffic or your child losing a toy under the car seat. You don’t want to get in the habit of being late. The same is true if you’ve agreed to have your child ready for pick-up at a specific time.
Consider a neutral location
If your co-parent insists on picking a fight, you may want to consider doing your exchanges somewhere besides your homes. You might meet at a local playground or park that’s convenient for both of you and where your child will enjoy spending time. You might also consider modifying your schedule a bit so that one parent drops the child off at school after their custody time is finished and the other picks them up that afternoon.
Most parents figure out what works best for them and for their children after a while. The important thing is not to make exchange days something your child dreads. This may require making some modifications to your parenting plan.