Summer is a season traditionally full of sun, fun and great times with family. However, as enjoyable as summer can be, it can also present a challenge when it comes to crafting a time-sharing schedule for parents who share custody of their children, one that works for both the parents and the child (children).
This can become even more difficult when one parent is a narcissist, which is not an uncommon scenario. As experienced family law attorneys in Jacksonville, FL practicing divorce and family law for more than 50 years, we’ve seen it often. In this article, we will discuss some helpful tips for planning a summer time-sharing schedule that will ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and stress-free summer.
Before we delve into strategies for planning summer time-sharing when dealing with an especially self-absorbed co-parent, let’s discuss the fundamentals for all who may be sharing parenting responsibilities in this active time of year.
Start Early and Be Proactive
Summer is a busy time for everyone, and it’s important to start planning your time-sharing schedule as early as possible to avoid any last-minute confusion or disagreements. Waiting until the last minute can lead to stress, conflicts, and disappointment for everyone involved. Being proactive and planning ahead can help alleviate these issues.
Communication is key when it comes to planning a summer time-sharing schedule. It’s essential to have open and honest communication with your co-parent about your expectations and needs for the summer. Both parents should be willing to listen to each other’s concerns and work together to find a schedule that works for everyone involved, including the children.
Use a Co-Parenting App
Using a co-parenting app can make planning a summer time-sharing schedule easier. These apps allow you to share information, make changes to the schedule, and communicate with your co-parent in one convenient location.
Consider the Children’s Needs
When planning a summer time-sharing schedule, it’s important to consider the children’s needs first and foremost. This means considering their ages, interests and any other obligations they may have, such as summer camps or extracurricular activities. Make sure to involve them in the planning process as much as possible, giving them the opportunity to express their preferences and concerns.
Flexibility is crucial when it comes to crafting a summer time-sharing schedule. This means being open to changes and being willing to adjust as needed. Life can be unpredictable, and unexpected events can occur that may require changes to the schedule. Being flexible and adaptable can help prevent conflicts and ensure a smoother summer.
Be Mindful of Holidays and Special Occasions
Summer is full of holidays and special occasions, such as Father’s Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, not to mention graduations, birthdays and other life events. When planning your time-sharing schedule, it’s important to take these instances into account, and plan accordingly. Make sure to discuss how you will share these special occasions with your co-parent and come to an agreement that works for everyone.
Strategies for Summer Time-Sharing Planning with a Narcissistic Co-Parent
While all of the suggestions above can be extremely helpful for most parents planning summer time-sharing, dealing with a narcissistic co-parent can be especially difficult, requiring its own strategic approach. Here are some tips for navigating this type of situation:
Stay Focused on the Children, and Put Their Needs, First
It’s important to keep your focus on the children when dealing with a self-focused co-parent. Narcissists see themselves as the center of the universe and may be unwilling to consider anyone else’s needs. It is important to stand up for your child and advocate for their best interests, but to do this, it sometimes requires putting aside your own personal feelings. Try to avoid engaging in any power struggles or conflicts with your co-parent, as this can only lead to more stress and tension.
Stick to the Court Order
If you have a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, stick to it as much as possible. This can help prevent your co-parent from manipulating the schedule for their own benefit.
Setting clear boundaries can help manage a narcissistic co-parent’s behavior. This means being firm and consistent in your communication and sticking to the agreed-upon schedule. If your co-parent tries to manipulate or control the situation, remain calm and assertive, and remind them of the agreed-upon plan.
Keeping detailed records of all communications and interactions with a narcissistic co-parent can be helpful in case of any disputes or conflicts. This includes documenting all phone calls, emails, and text messages, as well as any interactions during drop-off and pick-up.
Involve a Neutral Third Party
In some cases, involving a neutral third party, such as a parenting coordinator, mediator or therapist, can help facilitate communication and resolve conflicts between co-parents. This can be especially helpful when dealing with a selfish co-parent who may be naturally resistant to working together.
Seek Legal Guidance from a Family Law Attorney
If a stubborn co-parent refuses to earnestly abide by a court-ordered time-sharing agreement when planning a summer time-sharing schedule (or any time), you should contact a family law attorney for assistance. Parenting plans and time-sharing agreements can be modified and parents can face significant legal consequences if they refuse to follow the court-approved plan.
Dealing with a narcissistic co-parent can be challenging and emotionally draining. Having the support of a knowledgeable and sympathetic local family law expert on your side can make all the difference in your summer, and every season thereafter, until the time your children become adults who are legally responsible for themselves.
If you need assistance with any child custody, time-sharing, divorce or other family law matter, contact the experienced and compassionate family lawyers at Parra Harris Law in Jacksonville. We serve all areas of Northeast Florida and are bi-lingual. Call us today.