For any parent, the pain of staying away from their child is unfathomable. It does not even begin to scratch the surface of what some single parents must be going through right now, having to keep a safe distance from their kid(s), amid the nationwide lockdown. As we stay resilient inside our houses, united as a family, we forget that there are so many families out there that are not really together, and even further apart, given the circumstances.
For single parents, especially, this is a pretty trying time. Most of them co-parent their children with an estranged partner. While the arrangements may vary, largely, it entails sharing the custody of the child so they get to enjoy the company of both parents, even if it is not simultaneous.
When the lockdown was announced, it gave little time to plan and make significant changes in the co-parenting front, leaving the kid in the custody of one of the parents, for an anticipated period of 21 days. This can be incredibly difficult for both the child (depending on the age they are at), and the parent who is away for the interim.
For starters, the kid may be accustomed to a routine, which may have gone for a toss. For the parent who is away, the agony of having to stay away from the child may be too much. And for the parent with whom the child is, establishment of newer and healthier rules may take precedence over other things. Also the fact that they may have to emotionally make themselves available for the child — independent of their personal equation with their former partner.
Actor Hrithik Roshan had recently shared a telling post on his Instagram, wherein he had thanked his ex wife and the mother of his two boys, Sussanne, for deciding to “temporarily move out of her home”, so that their children are “not disconnected indefinitely” from either one of them.
View this post on Instagram
. It is unimaginable for me, as a parent, to think of having to be separated from my children at a time when the country is practicing lockdowns. . It is heartwarming to see the world come together as one in this time of deep uncertainty and possibility of months of social distancing and potential lockdowns for several weeks perhaps . . While the world talks about humanity coming together, I think it represents more than just an idea especially for parents sharing custody of their kids. How to keep their kids close to them without infringing on the right of the other who also has an equal right to be with his/her children. . This is a picture of dear Sussanne (my ex wife) , who has graciously volunteered to temporarily move out of her home so that our children are not disconnected indefinitely from either one of us. . Thank you Sussanne for being so supportive and understanding in our journey of co-parenting. . Our children will tell the story we create for them. . I hope and pray that in order to safeguard the health of ourselves and our loved ones, we all find our way to express love, empathy, courage, strength with an open heart ❤️. . #beopen #bekind #bebrave #responsibility #coexist #empathy #strength #courage #oneworld #humanity #wecanfighththis #loveoverfear
“It is unimaginable for me, as a parent, to think of having to be separated from my children at a time when the country is practicing lockdowns. . (sic)” he had written in the post.
“While the world talks about humanity coming together, I think it represents more than just an idea especially for parents sharing custody of their kids. How to keep their kids close to them without infringing on the right of the other who also has an equal right to be with his/her children…” he continued.
Roshan ended the post saying: “Thank you Sussanne for being so supportive and understanding in our journey of co-parenting… Our children will tell the story we create for them.”
Dr Debmita Dutta, a parenting consultant, tells indianexpress.com that while co-parenting, it is most important that both parents are on the same page with regard to parenting decisions. “This is a very stressful time for children as well. In the information age – they know a lot – that COVID 19 is a pandemic that is killing people – and so on. And what they need to know through this is – that they can rely on more than one person for all that they need,” she says, adding that parents need to set aside their differences and ensure that the child feels secure and close to both of them.
Co-parenting always comes with its share of challenges, and Dutta says that through the quarantine, it is likely that the child is living with one parent all the time, and possibly interacting with the other parent digitally. “If the child is living with the father, and interacting with the mother digitally – through video chat or other means – the father is likely to be privy to all the conversations and interactions. It is important at this point for the father to not colour the communication between the mother and child with his opinion and approval and disapproval of what is being said. The child must be able to love both parents. And must not be biased by one parent’s view because of living with her/him,” she says.
So, as parents, how can you explain the situation to your child?
Through open communication, says Dutta. “Children need to know that these are exceptional circumstances – and while we don’t know how long these circumstances will last – we know that one day we shall overcome and go back to living full, happy, normal lives. It is easy to feel pessimistic, but as parents, we must try to be optimistic otherwise we will pass our fears and anxieties on to our children, which will make co-parenting more difficult,” she explains.
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