When you and your co-parent worked out your custody and visitation agreement and even your more detailed parenting plan, you may not have considered addressing your children’s nutrition and diet. However, those can suffer when children move between two homes.
Likely, you and your co-parent don’t have precisely the same views about your children’s diet. However, you should at least work together to commit to choosing healthy, nutritious foods and snacks for your kids, both when they’re at home and when you go out to eat. That includes packing a healthy lunch to take to school when they’re staying with you.
This can be more challenging for a parent who doesn’t spend much time in the kitchen and likely isn’t eating very healthy themselves now that they’re on their own. However, it’s easier than ever to buy and prepare whole foods than it used to be.
If a child has weight issues or is an extremely picky eater, it’s especially important for parents to commit to making sure that they get a balanced diet. If you and your co-parent still have some communication issues, you may want to start a shared food journal where you note what the child ate at each meal. If one of you stumbles on a strategy for getting your child to eat green vegetables that they usually push aside, share it with your co-parent. Remember, your primary focus is your child’s health and well-being.
Another area around meals where parents sometimes diverge is whether to allow kids to be on their phones or tablets. Experts typically recommend that families have “media-free” meals so that they can have real conversations. However, if a child is allowed to text through dinner at one parent’s home and not the other’s, it can be confusing and frustrating for them. It’s best when co-parents have the same rules regarding electronic devices at the table (including TV watching).
It’s best not to micromanage what your co-parent allows your kids to eat or drink as long as they aren’t going overboard with fast food and junk food. However, if it becomes an issue and you believe that your child’s health is suffering as a result, you may want to talk with your attorney about including more detail in your parenting plan regarding your child’s diet.