One of the myriad decisions co-parents have to make includes what children will do in their free time in certain extracurricular activities. Sports and athletic endeavors make up a large percentage of activities for children.
Some parents may find the argument centers around the cost of the extracurricular activities. Indeed, many sports and other hobbies are expensive undertakings and parents may have a different philosophy on the value of the expense.
A dispute may arise about the amount of time that the child is spending in extracurricular activities with some parents fearing that their child is "over scheduled" and others fearing that their child isn't involved in enough activities. It may be that what is acceptable for one sibling is not acceptable for another due to each individual's physical and psychological makeup.
The rising concern of "dangerous" sports
Even more challenging is a disagreement about "dangerous" sports and activities. Of course, certain inherent risks come with most sports and athletic activities. But researchers are still learning more about the risks of many contact sports such as football, hockey and soccer that cause us to question whether children should be involved in certain sports at all.
Many of the risks include head injuries, orthopedic injuries and other physical ailments that cause lifelong problems. Parents who are still married may disagree about this issue and co-parents who are no longer together will have the same disagreements. So what do you do to address these concerns in an effective way while minimizing conflict in the co-parenting relationship?
Talk about your concerns
If you have concerns about certain sports or activities, you should bring them up with the other parent in a civil manner. Don't include the children in this discussion. It may be that there is a way to involve the children in activities that are less dangerous or take more precautions to protect their safety. After all, you both love your children and want them to be as safe as possible when undertaking activities.
Do your research
In order to better evaluate whether your fears are unfounded or not, get some information on the subject. Talk to doctors or other experts and read some peer-reviewed research to find out more. Sometimes our concerns are based on irrational fears and additional information can put those fears to rest. If not, present this information to the other parent in order to effectuate a positive conversation.
Work with a mediator or within another alternative dispute resolution process
If you can't make a decision as co-parents, then you need to work with someone who can help facilitate an agreement or make a decision if the two of you are not able to make a joint decision. Again, focusing on what is best for your children and what is acceptable to you, but doing so with an objective perspective can be effective.
This area of concern will continue to develop as we learn more and more about how sports and activities are affecting our children. Make sure that you are taking the time to discuss this issue in a reasonable manner and do your homework first.