It sounds like you really value the routines you have established, which is certainly so important with young children. I am glad you want to share what works in your home, but we also want to be respectful that we all develop our own parenting style and unique ways of relating to our kids.
Let’s try to focus on building trust as co-parents at this point. Here are some thoughts they come to mind in regard to trust and parenting a small child:
- Establish schedules and share them, for the child’s health and comfort.
Communicate about bedtime rituals, mealtimes, naps, etc; Realize, however, you have no place monitoring your child’s time with the other parent. Whenever possible, consistency is obviously easier for your child and so should be respected within reason. Share facts and observations about what you see in your child’s behaviors or emotions; avoid criticizing or judging the other parent’s practices or households.
- Trust that each parent will only have your child around healthy individuals and healthy people. Agree to communicate concerns respectfully, if they come up. Otherwise, it is not your place to monitor where the other parent takes your child, nor what friends or extended family are present.
- Agree on basic boundaries and consequences in both households. Obviously, no hitting, yelling, or excessive punishment. Agree to enforce effective, age appropriate ways to deal with disobedience. For example at 3 years old, most children get the message with 3 minutes in a “time-out” area; followed by a short explanation/ conversation about what they did wrong, and what they can do differently next time. Acknowledge feelings and questions, without anger, helping the child feel supported, even while enforcing boundaries. This being said, each parent may have their own way of communicating consequences, and this should be respected without question, if it is in no way abusive.
- Encourage independence, but realize children sometimes regress, and need to be held, nurtured or “babied.” It is often a way that your child is seeking more connection with you. Touch, eye contact, laughing, rocking—all promote secure attachment and confidence/ safety. Follow your child’s lead in imaginative and pretend play. Boundaries are important… but silliness, attunement, and play are the biggest factors in a child’s secure attachment with each parent.
- Set a limit on TV or screen-time, and try to agree on how many hours/ day is healthy for your child. Share what woks in your house, and why— then let it go. You have no control over how this is handled when your child is not in your care.
- Lastly, if there are constant disagreements in many of the above areas, you may want to enlist the help of a parenting coordinator. This neutral person, appointed by family court, can help establish guidelines or make decisions, when the parents are stuck in conflict mode.
Call or text if you need clarification or support.
You’ve got this!