The phrase “parenting time” is being used in place of “visitation” since it makes it sound like the non-custodial parent is a guest in their own child’s life. This is not the case. A parent is not a guest, they are a parent, and they are responsible for more than just hanging out with their kid and having a good time. They are responsible for parenting their children as well through good times and bad.
For many parents who only get to see their kids on the weekends or maybe a day or so during the week, even if they technically have shared custody, they don’t want to waste their parenting time if the child is not feeling well and they can’t enjoy the time. Parenting is not just about enjoying your time with your children. Parenting means that you must care for them when they are ill and discipline them when they are misbehaving and help them when they are in trouble.
If a child is very sick, like with the flu, then it is not fair to the child to tell them they have to go with their other parent since it is their parenting time now. The decision of whether or not a child can travel must be taken into account. However, for minor ailments, like a cold or a stomach bug, it may not be enough to deny the other parent their time. For most parents, they appreciate the time of being able to help their children when they are feeling bad, and for the children, they appreciate the fact they have two parents who can and are willing to care for them. It is a comforting feeling for kids who often feel that they are missing out on having two full-time parents.
For parents who only have limited time with their children, they often try to plan every minute to get as much out of their time as possible. In reality, sometimes parenting time is spent helping kids with their homework or bringing them to their extra-circular activities such as sports or scouting, or dance class. Parenting is hard work, even if you only get to do it a couple of days a week or even every other week.
What happens when a parent is sick?
Having a family means that all plans are tentative until they happen. How many times have you been getting ready for something when a wrench is thrown into the plans? You are about to walk out the door when all of a sudden, the dog throws up on the carpet. You are about to leave when you hear your kid yell, “Dad, there is water in the basement up to my knees.”
The worst one is when you are ready to leave, and you check in in your child, and they are laying in bed, and you hear the dreaded, “I don’t feel well,” and a temperature check tells you that you are now dealing with this, and your other plans are instantly canceled.
Sometimes it isn’t the child that is sick, but the parent and regardless of the parenting-time schedule, you get a call or a text that lets you know that you are now on-duty.
It is challenging to be a parent on a schedule. The parenting coordination plan might say your parenting time is officially every other weekend plus a couple of days during the week. Real-life has other plans for you, and you have to be flexible to meet the challenges associated with being a parent, in sickness, and in health.