Previously published in Examiner
Conclusion of the Making Joint Custody Work series
Disadvantages for joint custody
Unfortunately there are disadvantages for children living in two separate homes. When they travel back and forth from one home to another they may not feel at home or secure in either home. That is why trying to make the two homes as similar as possible is important. This is especially true for children who have learning disabilities as they may not be as resilient or as adaptable as other children.
Homework can become an issue. As hard as both parents try, shifting back and forth from one home to the other may lead to missing homework assignments. It is therefore important to consult with each other to make sure all homework assignments are done. Also meet the parent night should be attended by both parents if possible. Some ex couples can't stand each other and don't want to meet face to face, even in a public place. Arrange then to have different times assigned for each parent to visit with the teacher. For example if meet the parent night is from 7pm – 9pm, one parent can be there promptly at 7pm, while the other parent only arrives at 8pm after the first parent has left.
Fathers are often unprepared for raising a child on their own. In most cases women still remain the primary caregiver and thus the one with the experience. Fathers may feel unprepared and insecure, however, parenting is a joint responsibility. Do not use “I don't know how” as an excuse to abandon your children. They need you. Ask for help, ask for advice, consult the family doctor, the school guidance counselor, your ex wife, your mother, sister, other parents you know and join a support group in your area if time permits. Good parenting is not gender specific.
Remember in the end you must be civil to each other and respect that regardless of your differences with the ex, you must get along when it comes to the children. If you are having problems communicating as most divorced or separated parents have, consult a mediator, or counselor who can show you ways of talking with each other that will benefit the children and not end in conflict, screeming, name calling, bullying or totally lack of involvement.
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