Dr. Amy Stark
Child Psychologist, Author & Speaker
Teaching Families How to Live Divorced
and Self-Esteem for Girls
Food For Thought
What does it mean to be a gatekeeping parent. The term is widely used among the family court judicial officers. When you are the gatekeeper parent you are the one that has the children the majority of the time. So, how can you do your job when you might not know what it is? Basically, it means that you need to consider and include the other parent in all decisions you make. It does not mean that since you have the kids the lions share of the time that its too bad for the other parent and you can do what you want since they can’t stop you. It also means that you have to promote the children’s relationship with the other parent. In this post I will write about communication. Do not make decisions without including input from the other parent. Especially important if you have joint legal custody. Even if you have full custody, include their thoughts and wishes about the child in all decisions you make. I know that sometimes with all the animosity involved in a divorce, parents may have a tendency to dismiss the other parent’s opinion out of hand, but when you do that– its dangerous on a number of levels. Another opinion often helps you make sure that you have considered every possible angle and kept your child’s best interests at the core of all you do…instead of shifting the decision making based upon revenge. Make sure that after every medical appointment or dental appointment you e mail the other parent the results within 24 hours. Include the other parent in all consultations with specialists. Ask your child what activity they want to do and include the other parent in the decision. Make sure that when flyers come from the school, the other parent has a copy. (Although it is also the other parent’ s responsibility to make their own relationship with the school.) Talk about long term projects and share homework responsibilities. If you are moving, you need to let the other parent know in writing where you will be living. Follow the court order you have about how far you can move without the court’s involvement. Make sure that the other parent’s information is also on the emergency card at the school. Your general marching order should be : include and involve.
Dr. Stark's Web site is not intended to take the place of a court-ordered advice or the advice of another professional. Although you may use the input found here to your best advantage, we recommend that you do so in conjunction with the work that you are doing with your individual therapist. Remember: this Web site is not therapy; it's knowledge and support.
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