Parent Team

Co-Parenting and Navigating Phone Calls and Facetime

Co-Parenting and navigating Phone Calls and Facetime can feel tricky It’s also an important aspect of co-parenting. Use these tips as some helpful guidance in setting you and your child up for a less-stressed experience during phone calls and check-ins.

Helping to Navigate phone calls for younger children…

Set your child up in a comfortable, quiet, private space with their communication device (phone, computer, etc.). Allow them to have privacy, so they don’t feel “watched” or as if they have to monitor what they say to the other parent. If they are in their room, you can leave the door open, but just let them know, “I am going to give you some special time with your dad/mom right now”. Then TRY and not interrupt them – it is their time with their other parent.

Helping to Navigate phone calls for younger or middle school age children…

Structure the calls with specific days and times, so everyone knows when they will happen. Children thrive on predictability, structure, routine, and consistency . As a co-parent you can help create and initiate a plan with your co-parent. Because remember it is for the benefit of your KID.

Helping to Navigate phone calls for older children…

When they have their own cell phone, be respectful of your co-parent’s residential time. Being mindful that texting and phone calls out of the blue can cause disruption for the other household. If you can be mindful of this while your kids are at their other home, chances are the behavior is more likely to be reciprocated when they are at your house. It can also be helpful to allow your older kids some choice and freedom in when and how to contact you.

Things Co-Parents Can Remember in General When Helping to Navigate phone calls for children…

It is really important to allow your children time to connect without interruptions. If you are struggling with attention being drawn away from you as a parent and given to their other parent on a phone call, this would be a great topic to explore with yourself or with a trusted friend or counselor. Parent self-awareness is critical in allowing our children to navigate their relationships with both parents freely.

If you have multiple children, you can have them take turns talking to their other parent or talk all at once. This decision is based on what your children prefer.

Try and make this a priority. This demonstrates a lot to your kids. You are letting your children know you honor that they have another parent, and their relationship is important. Navigating phone calls while your kids are with their other parent can feel tricky. If you need to change the time/day, do this well ahead of time, so everyone is prepared.

Be respectful of mealtimes, routines, and activities in the residential parents’ home. You can help to set the phone call up for better success if you plan to  have your child use the bathroom, have a snack, finish activities or homework before the call. This helps to ensure their time with their other parent is respected and prioritized.

Children need to feel secure. Remember when parents show disappointment if their child doesn’t call this can create shame in kids. Sometimes parents show feelings of rejection if their child wants to get off the phone, REMEMBER this can create shame in children and keep them from feeling regulated in their secure space. Learn to self-regulate and manage your own big emotions when your connection to your children is not what you hoped for. It’s not personal.

When it comes to navigating phone calls BOTH Co-Parents Need to Remember to;

Think of ways you can allow your child to settle into their experience and connection with their parent on the phone. They need to be able to do this without worrying about you, and being preoccupied with how you feel. This takes your child OUT OF THE MIDDLE and allows them to just be a kid and not worry about pleasing a parent or navigating their parent’s feelings.

Try and remember that the amount of calling or length of connection is not a measure of how much your children love and care for you. Understanding that some calls may be longer, and some very short check-ins. Kids are concrete and very “in the moment,” so this can often feel challenging when you are the parent on the other end of the phone and your child is “busy” doing something else.

As the parent on the phone practice empathy and try and understand your child’s perspective and what your CHILD needs in that moment. Remember phone calls are not a time for parents to get their emotional needs met. Parents support kids, not the other way around.

Helpful things for the “on-parent” to remember when navigating phone calls…

If you are the parent who is the “on parenting time” then you can be supportive by following the above steps and making sure your child’s relationship and the connection with their other parent are prioritized for the benefit of your KID! Children may need more connection with each parent directly after a separation, divorce, adjustment, or restructuring. Your kids may be grieving their family changing and allowing them to remain a sense of connection to BOTH parents is critical to your kid’s ability to adjust.

Remember, phone calls and connecting with their other parent is about your CHILD, not about the adults. It’s a time for your child to check in on their relationship with their other parent and maybe just share some fun or challenging things from their time away. Can it be inconvenient for the residential parent… absolutely… AND it’s important.

Navigating phone calls while your kids are with their other parent can feel tricky. If you need more support with communication across two homes? Check out our online co-parenting course, Parenting from Two Homes Course. 

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