Tips on Making Health Decisions for Children Whose Parents Are No Longer Together

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Martyn Noss and Ghina Siddiqui have split custody of their teenage son. In the years since their divorce, the Maryland parents have managed their son's health in a way that they say is cooperative, organized and free of animosity.

While every family situation is different, we asked them to pass along some tips to parents navigating health-care decisions after a breakup:

Communicate. "You may not be together anymore, but when you have children you're partners in parenthood. You need to make THATpartnership work." -- Noss

Lighten up. "Attitude is more important than logistics. You have to be coming from a positive place; otherwise, nothing else is going to go right." -- Noss

Get Organized. "I came up with the idea of keeping a ledger on Google Docs, and it works great. We each upload information and then we are both looking at the same thing. We can even write notes to each other and have discussions." -- Siddiqui

Be patient. "While we were divorcing, I wanted our son to take fish oil supplements, and I wanted him to have them while he was at his dad's house. It took a long time for Marty to incorporate that, and now they cook more fish and get the vitamins directly. In that way they're ahead of me. In hindsight I realized that introducing a change when you're in the middle of divorcing can be a hard thing to do." -- Siddiqui

Remember the goal: a healthy, happy child. "Trust between co-parents is essential. We respect each other. When it comes to mutual decision-making, in health care and everything else, getting to agreement is a kind of prize. Keep your eyes on that prize." -- Noss and Siddiqui

-- Theola Labbé-DeBose

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