So here's a question for all the bio and step-parents out there. If a member of the family has the flu should the parent of the visiting child refuse or expect to change the weekend? I'm a step-mom with a little one with my husband. I have a step son who is 11. If someone is sick at our house (minor cold, cough or any symptoms) stepson's mom says that she should be able to keep him home so he doesn't get it. She left a messages after last visit that we were negligent in taking him when the other child is sick. Any thoughts?
Visitation and the flu
Is she offering you make up time?
I think if you agreed you could end up missing a huge percentage of your time. And it's not like the child is not exposed to bacteria etc every day at school!
If she got sick I am sure she would not agree to you keeping the child away from her.
It's reasonable for parents to talk through these kind of issues and to share information to come to make an informed decision of whether to proceed with the visit as scheduled or not. In case they do not agree (and Dad* doesn't have to agree) the visit proceeds as scheduled. Mom* isn't above the court order. End of story. She can accuse you of being negligent all she wants, but children aren't taken from their parents because they fail to evacuate the house while one person is sick. You're right--it's a part of life as a family. Families wash their hands, along with other measures to avoid spreading the sick, but at the end of the day it sometimes spreads.
If a child in his classroom at school has a cold, does Mom keep DSS home from school? If someone in her family has a cold does Mom send DSS away until everyone's symptoms are gone? Does Mom get a babysitter to watch DSS when she goes to the grocery store so no one coughs on him there? As ridiculous as these scenarios are, it's just as ridiculous to keep DSS from Dad's house because someone in the that home may be sick. It is Dad's prerogative to initiate the conversation if he thinks that proceeding with the visit exposes DSS to unreasonable risk (or, if the sickness is something infants or other immune-compromised persons should be protected from and Dad wants to be courteous to avoid DSS exposing an infant or immune-compromised person in mom's home, if/when one resides there).
* not because they are Mom or Dad, but because the visit is court-ordered. If the visit isn't court-ordered, unfortunately for Dad, Mom can choose any reason she wants to not let DSS visit with Dad. If Dad doesn't like the situation he should motion the court to specify the dates and times when DSS shall be available for visits. In that case, Mom's unreasonable reasons for keeping the child from Dad will hurt her case in court (assuming she'll argue against the formalized schedule).
If the parents don't agree, the first good place to start is usually the court orders and state law/guidelines.
Here, there's an emphasis on parenting time being more than just "a visit"; and that part of parenting is caring for sick kids (and dealing with it, if siblings catch the illness). Here, illness is not a legally acceptable excuse for one parent to unilaterally deny parenting time to the other.
That said, if one of my ex's other kids were sick enough to stay home from school, I sure wish he'd bother to communicate with me and switch weekends, instead of spreading it to the kids in my house. And I know for certain his wife feels the same way, if one of my other kids is sick!
But we make it safe for each other to share such information, because we never take advantage by refusing to work out make-up time. When my step-son lived with his mother (who often lied about him being sick, to justify denying visits), we would never have disclosed illness in our home or agreed to let him stay home with her for a weekend.
IMO, your husband's ex deserves leeway to reschedule visits to avoid illness, in direct proportion to how cooperative she typically is, about allowing make-up time.
Edited by VocalMinority - 2/22/14 at 4:19pm
I think it could be a reasonable request if it's a particularly nasty illness. If it's for every sniffle and cough, that sounds like her withholding visitation. An 11 year old isn't in any danger from catching the flu anyway. I could see if it was a newborn or something.
This is inaccurate. Influenza is a particularly nasty illness, and it does kill people of all ages annually. One of my children had it at 11 and was very sick for a couple of weeks. It was much more debilitating than the chicken pox she had at 8. I had it two years ago and didn't get out of bed for three days except to use the bathroom, then took weeks to recover fully. Neither of us had ever been vaccinated against flu, so no, it was not caused by the vaccine or related to a vaccine reaction. (Not intending to shift the discussion to vaccination, just volunteering that information before it's asked.)
Yes, the very young, very old, immune-impaired, and people with pre-existing lung problems are at the greatest risk from influenza, but it's not the same as the "common cold" or a gastro problem that resolves in a couple of days. I would absolutely put flu in the category of "informed consent" for known exposure.
If they are sick and I don't have to work, I keep the sick kid home. The healthy kid would still go with their dad. My younger dd has asthma and her dad isn't entirely comfortable caring for her when sick. If I'm scheduled to work, he will take care of them sick but sends me constant questions via text. There aren't any other kids at his house. He kind of freaks out when they are sick and so it is easier on everyone if they stay home.
My older dd (16) has a much younger brother (5) at her dad's. He has severe asthma. She doesn't go there if she is sick and they are grateful for the head's up. But in that situation, visitation is very flexible.
It's a pretty common sense approach for us. However, I know that isn't always the case and that the illness excuse can be abused to withhold visitation.