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June 2006 - In Sickness and In Health

One thing you can count on when you are a parent is that your child will get sick. Thereís simply no avoiding it. But when youíre sharing parenting time with your ex, childhood illnesses can play havoc with your schedules. Follow these tips for preserving your mental health when your childís physical health is on the wane.

Share parenting of a sick child. When your child is sick with a minor illness, your parenting instincts kick in and you may want to nurse him or her back to health yourself. Itís natural to feel protective when your child is sick, but the other parent can provide adequate care as well. Your child can lie on the couch with a box of tissues at the other parentís house as well as at yours. Caring for a sick child is an important part of the parenting process, so give the other parent that opportunity. As long as your child is mobile and not seriously ill, stick to the visitation schedule as much as possible.

Allow access. If your child needs to be in bed, is vomiting, or is just too sick to get up and go anywhere, that doesnít mean the other parent should be shut out. Your child may not be able to go to the other parentsí house, but that doesnít mean the other parent canít come by for a short visit. Allow them some time alone together, even if it just for the other parent to sit by the bed and hold the childís hand while he sleeps.

Pinch hit for each other when possible. Kids seem to always get sick at the most inconvenient times. If you have an important meeting scheduled and your child is home sick from school, see if the other parent can take the day off to care for him. If you can rely on each other to fill in during these times, youíll always have back up child care and your child will be able to be cared for by a parent while sick.

Offer directions if youíre worried. If you send your child off to the other parentís house with a cold or stomach ache and youíre concerned that your ex doesnít really understand how to care for the child, offer some written instructions if it will make you feel better. Make sure that your ex has the phone number for your pediatrician. The bottom line though is that you have to let go. You have to let the other parent be a parent and learn how to care for a sick kid.

Keep charts for medications. When you have two people administering medications it makes sense to create a chart so that you can both mark down dosages and when medications were given. This can avoid confusion, overdoses, and missed medications. Do this for prescriptions, as well as over the counter medications.

Work together in the worst situations. If your child is seriously ill, this is a time to put aside your differences and focus on getting her healthy. If youíre seeing specialists, having both parents along can be useful, if youíre able to handle the situation together.

The good thing about most childhood illnesses is that they pass as quickly as they came on. Remember that you and your ex are both parents, in sickness and in health.





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