When mom and dad decide to end the marriage, the kids are often left feeling stranded and unstable in a world where they aren’t sure what is going to happen. As parents work through financial and emotional issues related to divorce, an important piece of the puzzle is creating a parenting plan that works for your family. Every family is unique, but there are general guidelines that should be followed when creating a parenting plan.
Questions To Ask
Even though you and your spouse disagree on many things and are in the middle of a tense situation as you end your marriage, you both still have your children in common. There are several important questions to ask before you start designing your parenting plan:
- How do we want our children to remember our behavior when they are adults?
- How can we effectively parent from separate households?
- Are we resolving family issues or just legal matters?
- What goals for our children do we have in common?
Parenting is difficult when parents stay married but can become uniquely difficult when a divorce is at the forefront of the family. The focus should remain on your children and their needs for a healthy diet, enough rest, good medical care, protection, guidance and love.
What Children Need
As you design your parenting plan, remember that there are very basic things that children need that should be included. Children need competent, caring and loving parents who share an active role in their development and parents who are willing to work together to handle parenting tasks. Using the children as pawns in competition or conflict will only damage them and your relationship with them.
Children need stability and predictability, and conflict can be minimized if the parenting plan is specific and both parties are content with the results. While no plan is perfect, the more detail that is discussed while designing the plan, the less room t here is for error or misinterpretation.
Flexibility From Both Parents
When creating a parenting plan, it’s important to remember that things are likely to change over time, and you won’t always agree on what’s important for your children. Flexibility is vital from both parents as you figure out what is best for you and your children during a difficult time. As children grow older and mature, the plan will probably need to be revised and changed, and both parents must be aware of this.
If you are facing a divorce and know that your children are the first priority for you and your spouse, an attorney may be able to answer questions you have about designing a solid parenting plan.