Are You Ready for Shared Parenting?

Dr. Joseph Nowinski, a clinical psychologist and frequent author on divorce and parenting has suggested that true co-parenting isn’t always the best scenario. While he discusses that the philosophy is an improvement over the outdated “tender years doctrine” favoring mothers, he asserts that parenting time should be based on experience. Critics of this theory point out this is often a “Catch-22” situation for the parent who lacks experience because he or she hasn’t been the primary caregiver or custodian. How does one gain experience in parenting if insufficient parenting time is granted. Also, as households transition, each parent assumes more responsibilities in their respective new homes that were once mostly shared. In addition to the added responsibilities, both parents are likely experiencing financial hardship, which adds to the stress. More stress and distractions leave less time for attentive parenting. Divorce is disruptive for all members of the family. To minimize the trauma for the children, parents need to become more child-focused during the transition, which can be extremely difficult while handling their own emotional turmoil. An honest self-assessment is suggested to help parents evaluate if they are ready for shared parenting.

Dr. Nowinski has created the following list of questions. It is important to answer each of the following questions as it applies to you now, not what you plan for the future.

• Do you know the name of your child’s pediatrician?

• How often have you brought your child to a pediatrician appointment?

• Do you know the name and phone number of your child’s school nurse?

• Do you know the name and phone number (or e-mail address) of your child’s teacher?

• Does your child take any medications? If so, do you know their names, doses, and when your child is supposed to take them?

• Do you know approximately your child’s weight and height today?

• How many days in the past two years have you taken off from work in order to stay home with your child when she or he was sick?

• If your child is in day care, how often in the past year have you had a one-to-one chat with the director of the day-care center about your child’s progress in socialization?

• How often do you supervise or help your child with his or her homework?

• What are your child’s favorite television shows?

• How often do you read to your child?

• How many days per week do you supervise your child while he or she gets ready for bed, including brushing teeth, washing up, and getting into pajamas?

• How often do you prepare a meal for your child?

• What are your child’s favorite foods, and which are his or her least favorites?

• How often do you purchase clothing for your child? Do you know what his or her current clothing sizes are?

• Do you know the names of your child’s best friends?

• How many of your child’s birthday parties have you personally organized and supervised?