Over the next several weeks, I want to share about the common list of co-parenting challenges, and I will start with the co-parenting challenge of dealing with drop-off and pickup.

This is the No. 1 opportunity for tension and upset to be present between co-parents. This is also the No. 1 opportunity for when children are, or could be, affected by the tension and upset between their parents. For that reason, drop-off and pickup is a very important part of a co-parenting relationship.

As an example, I had a workshop attendee, a custodial grandmother, very upset that every time her granddaughter (6 years old), returned from a visit with her noncustodial parents, her granddaughter would walk in the house and grandmother would proceed to ask many questions: Did you have fun? What did you do? Where did you go? Who all was there? All of the questioning resulted in a stress and tension upset for the granddaughter, and she would begin to cry uncontrollably. This then resulted in grandmother asking another set of questions: What is wrong, honey? Did something happen? Why are you crying? Grandmother said that upon every return, this was the normal.

My suggestion to grandmother was to change up the return routine. Instead of granddaughter coming in the house and them sitting down for the many questions, for her (grandma) to be standing with a different plan. Maybe have granddaughter come in and then say something like, “Hi, honey. I’m glad you are back. You are back just in time to help grandma bake some cookies. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

For the granddaughter, there would be no expectation of needing to have answers ready for the many questions that she knows will be coming, especially if, noncustodial parents have instructed her to to not share with grandmother anything about her visit (and that does happen).

My co-parenting opinion for those who may be co-parenting with younger children, is that a 6-year-old may be too young to be able to let an adult know and be able to articulate possibly that they are stressed, so it may come out in behaviors. In this example, that would be the uncontrollably crying.

For this grandmother in my workshop, she was not able to see that she could maybe change up the routine for a different result, upon her granddaughter returning home from a visit.

As a mediator, co-parenting educator and co-parenting coach (parent facilitator), I pride myself on being able to offer suggestions to my workshop attendees and my coaching clients, changes they can make that may take little effort, but could result in a huge impact and change. If co-parents can think creatively while applying the four formula parts, change can and will happen.

Give thought to how the drop-off and pickup routine is for your child(ren). Is it a pleasant experience for them, or is it full of high conflict, stress and tension? If it is stressful for you, then it is most probably stressful for the child(ren).

I hope you all have a great week.

Kari Clemmer, a DeKalb High School graduate, is author and instructor of The Co-Parenting Workshop and instructs co-parenting education in Dallas. Visit the Co-Parenting Basics Facebook page for more co-parenting information and live co-parenting lessons. Send questions to Kari.clemmer@aol.com

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