If you’re a parent, this is prime cold and flu season for your kids. Even if they’ve managed to escape getting sick, it’s probably only a matter of time until they catch something that’s going around the school or daycare center.
Dealing with a sick child is stressful for any parent. However, when you’re a divorced parent sharing custody, illness can throw a wrench in your custody schedule. If you’re not the parent who normally deals with the pediatrician, having a child get sick while they’re at your house can leave you scrambling to figure out what to do.
It’s always essential for co-parents to put aside their differences to focus on their children’s best interests. However, that’s never more true than when a child is sick. Whether it’s the occasional cold or stomach flu or your child suffers from a chronic health issue like asthma or allergies, co-parents need to have a plan for dealing with a child who needs care, whether it’s a hot bowl of soup or immediate medical attention.
It’s essential for parents to communicate. If your child is supposed to come to your house for the weekend, but they’re too sick to get out of bed, don’t try to enforce the schedule. Maybe you can come visit them instead.
Whatever you do, don’t fight over it (even on the phone) in front of your child. The last thing they need is more stress or to feel guilty for being sick. That’s why it’s wise to have a plan in place — particularly if your child gets sick frequently. You need to show your child that you’re both concerned about them.
Both parents need to have access to the child’s medical information, including knowing who and where their doctor is. Keep this information readily available. If your child is sick enough to need to see a doctor or go to an emergency room, make sure you keep your co-parent informed.
If you and your co-parent repeatedly find yourselves at odds over custody and/or communication when you have a sick child, it may be wise to add some provisions to your parenting plan to address these situations. Your attorney can help you work to do that.