There are no guidelines for dealing with a sick child where visitation is concerned. So what do you do? Every situation is different. You can address it in your parenting agreement but if it isn’t addressed common sense will be your best guide. Having a general idea of what will happen when your child is sick will make it easy to deal with. Here are some tips that worked for me and my kids.
Parenting a sick child
Everyone parent knows when their child is ill, no matter how minor, our instinct is to care for them. Some parents, I am certainly guilty of this, believe they are the only ones who can care for their child properly. Your first reaction may be to cancel the visitation….ignore it. Both parents are equally able to care for a sick child. As long as the illness is relatively minor stay the course and continue with the visit as scheduled.
Modify the visit
There will be times when your child’s illness just doesn’t allow visitation to occur. When my kids were hit with a nasty stomach bug there was no moving them. The trip to the bathroom was all they could muster. When this occurs instead of just canceling the visit altogether, allow the other parent to come to the child for a visit. It is important for the children to have the support of both parents.
Offer assistance… and mean it!
Some parents aren’t confident the other parent will know what to do or how to do it. When this occurs; give them some help. Some written instructions, a list of medications and medication schedule, and the pharmacy and pediatrician’s phone numbers should do the trick. If you are like me, it would be easier to just do it yourself but you have to step back and let the other parent learn what to do and how to do it when it comes to caring for your sick child.
Keep track of the medications and doses taken
You have two people caring for your child. You absolutely need for both parents to be on the same page. An overdose or missed dose of medication can turn a minor illness into a major one quickly. Just sending the medications is NOT enough. Best option is to write down when you gave the most recent dose and when the next dose is scheduled. Do not rely upon the child to remember.
Know when to take things seriously
When the illness is a major one or requires surgery; the more help and support you have is better. Not only can the other parent help but so can extended family. They may not be your in-laws anymore but they are still the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and such of your children. When my oldest had an appendicitis, I had just had my 3rd child three weeks before. It was a great help to have not only my ex (we weren’t getting along at all) but his parents as well for support. Having a child go through a major illness or surgery is hard enough so set aside your differences and think about your child. The more support the better.
Remain calm and work together
One of the best things you can for you children is to remain calm. If they go on the visit needlessly worrying and calling every 5 minutes to check on them does not help. Fighting with your ex while your child is ill doesn’t help either. Minor illnesses pass quickly. When it comes to major illnesses you need to work with your ex to ensure doctor visits get done and proper medications are taken. Remember that you need to communicate with your ex about the decisions that will affect your child’s treatment. Unless it is an emergency you should discuss what is going on at all times so both parents can actively parent the child.