Let’s be honest…parents worry. Some more than others, but we all still worry. As co-parenters (no, I don’t actually think that’s a word), we have all found out at least once that our children were not with their other parent when we thought they were. Sometimes it is during the timeframe when they are “elsewhere” and sometimes after the fact. Before you panic and assume your children are lost or being held captive in a creepy redneck’s shed, remember that it is more likely that your ex is just a dick.
I know, I know, but Mandee, you always say to give them the benefit of the doubt! And I do….which means before you strangle the other parent, you should first assume that they simply forgot to tell you.
That being said, not knowing where your children are is absolutely not OK and non-negotiable. I have heard it all, every excuse, every reason, every bullshit thought when a parent thinks the other doesn’t need, or deserve to know where their children are. Here are some of my favorites (and by favorite I mean ridiculous):
- “She said she couldn’t watch them so I found a babysitter. She doesn’t need to know if she cannot be available.” – You’re being passive aggressive because he or she has a life and didn’t drop everything for you. Knock it off.
- “He knows so-and-so. I don’t need to tell him every time the kids are with them.” – It is not the other parent’s job to remember every person you think they know, may or may not remember since you were together, or people you’ve mentioned since.
- “If she wants to know, she can ask.” – You wouldn’t appreciate getting a text every time the children are with you. It’s your job to notify the other parent if the children are not with you. A quick text from you means you won’t have to get one every day confirming that the kids are in your care.
- “He doesn’t have first right or refusal so I don’t need to tell him.” – For those of you who don’t know, “first right of refusal” means that before you find a babysitter, you have to ask the other parent if they want the child(ren). This keeps petty parents from giving the kids to who they want even when they don’t have time to be with them, while restricting the other parent. Even if there is no first right of refusal, every parent is entitled to know where they are and who is caring for their children.
- “We are out of town. She wouldn’t know where it is anyway and besides what could she do to help if there was an emergency?” – This is my favorite and by far the stupidest thing I’ve heard before. You think if there was an emergency, it wouldn’t be beneficial to know what freaking plane to get on?
Every parent deserves and is within their bounds to demand to know the location of their children. Additionally, each parent is required to tell the other parent where their children are and they cannot withhold this information.
It’s simply the logical thing to do. If you leave the kids with a friend, go out, and something happens to you, the other parent will not know who to contact or where to go to pick up the children. If God forbid you get into a wreck. Who should they contact to get the kids? It’s not enough that their parent got into a wreck, they get to be delivered to your ex in a cop car…..yeah, that’s not traumatic.
Here is what you should be doing (preferably via text or email):
- “I have ___________ on Tuesday night. Would you like the kids?” The other parent confirms that they are not available.
- “OK, thanks anyway, I will send you the babysitter’s number once I get confirmation, but I wanted to check with you first.”
- Provide the following (also in writing): Name, phone number, and address, and what times they will be in the other person’s care.
- If you don’t want to ask them first, simply send a text or email with the above information so they are notified.
This is one where you don’t want to be caught with your pants down. When they sign out the kids from school and see that someone other than you signed them out last week and no one told them, you are going to have a pissed off parent on your hands. When the kids say they were at a “sleepover” last Friday night that you knew nothing about, you’re going to lose it. When the other parent calls to speak to the child and you have to explain that they are with your parents in another city and you dropped them off and came home without saying anything, you look like an asshole. Hmmmmm, perhaps leaving them with someone out-of-town without saying anything is a bad thing?
The fix above is simple, and it is common courtesy. Further, it can keep you out of legal trouble. No Judge wants to hear that you were sitting home twiddling your fingers while the other parent is out partying and you could have been with your kids. Alternately that you are finding out regularly that your kids are being left with someone else and you are not being told where they are. This is absolutely not acceptable.
Every parent deserves to know where their children are. If you are withholding this information, more than likely it’s because you’ve decided they don’t “need to know”. Since you are no longer a couple,what they do and do not need to know is not your call anymore. Try and remember when you were together and you appreciated that they cared enough to keep track of the kids. That hasn’t changed and they still want to know.