Why shouldn’t separated parents use free online calendars?

Scheduling is among the first and most troublesome problems separated parents face. That’s not a surprise; parents are acutely aware of how difficult it is to balance their lives with the lives of their children, and those who’ve been parents for a long time know how the scheduling difficulties change as their children grow. Time management is hard enough when parents are together and have both the opportunity and desire to regularly communicate.

So, when parents separate, scheduling problems can begin to seem insurmountable. As a result, parents often turn to technology. There are numerous free, online calendars for parents to choose from, including popular options like Google Calendar, the Microsoft Outlook Calendar, and Apple’s iCloud Calendar. The thing is, these programs have serious drawbacks that can make them ineffective or outright counterproductive for separated parents.

Some of these problems are present even for cooperative separated parents. These problems can scatter periods of strife into what would have otherwise been an amicable split, but they’re worse for parents who don’t get along. This article will start with the problems faced by both parties.

Crossed Wires:

Free online calendars like Google Calendar and the iCloud Calendar are designed with two things in mind: flexibility and ease-of-use. After all, they’re free offerings intended to bring in a wide network of people with the hope of dominating that segment of the market and providing a useful tool for a broad range of people. Unfortunately, focusing on flexibility and ease-of-use can sometimes result in miscommunications and technical difficulties.

Sometimes, miscommunications are caused by user error. Slight mishaps—a misunderstanding of how the program works or an accidental keystroke—can shift an appointment to the wrong spot or schedule a parent-teacher conference for the wrong child. These calendars’ ease-of-use makes errors like these much more likely, as the programs are designed to let you create your schedule quickly and with minimum hassle.

On the other hand, some opportunities for miscommunication are the result of technical difficulties inherent to the program, such as unwanted autocorrects and random data loss.

These accidents can insert conflict into friendly separations, but the conflict rarely lasts longer than it takes for the parents to clarify errors and find a better alternative to free online calendars. But for contentious separations, the shortfalls of online calendars can lead to severe consequences.


Unfortunately, it’s dishonesty that creates the worst issues with free online calendars. Free online calendars don’t have any sort of accountability; it’s easy to change or erase entries on a whim, and these calendars rarely track who makes these changes and when. And even when these calendars do track who makes what changes when, it’s very easy to circumvent those systems.

But, why is this an issue?

When parents argue—over custody, child support, or even just to fight—a distressingly common tactic is to manipulate scheduling and mislead the other parent. This takes many forms. In some cases, one parent will enter an important appointment (say, a parent-teacher conference) for an hour after it starts, then go in and change it to the correct time after the other parent has already missed the meeting, thus making them look irresponsible. Other times, they’ll wait to enter an appointment until the last minute but claim they gave the other parent advance notice. Or, they’ll delete appointments made by the other parent, leading to even more conflict. Finally, some parents will intentionally miss a meeting and claim the other parent never informed them.

These underhanded tactics are all made possible by the flexibility and lack of accountability present in free online calendars. They can be changed at any time by anyone, and the system doesn’t always track who did what or who has logged in to check the schedule. Thus, it’s easy to manipulate the system.

Free online calendars have no systems in place to prevent this kind of misuse for one simple reason: they have no reason to put such a system in place. Google Calendar and its like are built with cooperation in mind, not conflict resolution. As a result, they aren’t required to put in fail safes to prevent manipulation and misuse.

The Alternatives:

Luckily, there are calendars out there that are designed for separated parents and alleviate all the issues mentioned above. Many have well-maintained back-up systems, allow you to create unchangeable calendar entries, and track when each entry is made and by whom.

The downside of these advanced calendar programs is that they are often subscription-based. But they’re well worth the cost for the peace of mind they provide. Some calendaring services, like Cozi, offer free versions of their software but may limit access to certain tools and display ads until you subscribe to their paid version. Because of this, some attorneys will pitch in on subscription costs. And certain services, like Our Family Wizard, offer scholarship accounts for parents in financial need.

In Short:

Online calendars usually become necessary when there is already a communications issue present between the parents. Sometimes, this issue is not one person’s fault. Being a parent is tough, whether you’re raising your child with a cooperative partner or are struggling to adjust to the demands of co-parenting.

Either way, free online calendars have weaknesses that amplify extant communication issues. As a result, they can be a poor choice for recently separated parents who are looking for a program designed to help correct their communications problems. These days, many attorneys recommend that separated parents seek out a calendaring service specifically designed for co-parents, knowing that a tool specifically created to protect children from conflict is well worth the cost.

by, C. J. Wilson

About the Author –

C.J. Wilson is freelance writer specializing in game writing, journalism, and non-profit work. He’s also a writer of character-focused literary fantasy and sci-fi.