LITTLE GIRLThere was an agreement made between you and your co-parent. Whether formal or informal, it was established to create normalcy and routine for the children.

From who gets weekends, holidays and summers to where the children will go to school and who will pay for what, it was written or spoken and agreed upon.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Both of you may adhere to the agreement on a regular basis. If so, great and congratulations! There are so many factors that come into play when the agreement is made. There may be guilt, pressure, schedules, lifestyle, children’s preferences, location, and more. The part of the agreement that may not have been discussed in enough detail, is how you will come back to the table to communicate should the agreement not be working temporarily or permanently.

What was your agreement? Are you keeping your end of the bargain?

If not, take a moment to understand why and if there is a way to remedy the situation. If you agreed to pick up the children twice during the week, however your career keeps you from doing so, think of an alternative schedule to suggest to your other co-parent. If you agreed to restrict television for the children, but you find yourself allowing them to watch more then you are not keeping your end of the bargain. I’m giving a little tough love here. Making excuses for why is not the answer. I’m sure we can all think of reasons why we can’t do what we agreed to. I know from personal experience given my travel schedule that it is sometimes difficult to keep the arrangement as written, all of the time. When I need to change, ask for coverage, come later, keep longer, etc., I am sure to first, make sure that there is little way around my change in schedule and secondly, that what I’m asking is worth the withdrawal. This process has turned what could have been a very contentious situation into a very workable one.

It is also critical that you build up good will

(credit, if you will) with your co-parent, so that when you need to ask, there is enough in “the bank” for your withdrawal. If you are often the one not keeping your end of the bargain, then you’re only withdrawing and not depositing. When the good will account has a deficit balance, the tension builds. This, as we know, is not a positive thing for the children.

Lastly, communicate

If you are able to communicate with your co-parent openly, I highly recommend asking for feedback on how you are doing. This is another way to ensure that resentment is not building behind the scenes, and that you can be sure that you are keeping your end of the bargain.