When it comes time to begin building out your parenting plan, the possible combinations of choices are literally endless. Here are just some of the topics that you’ll need to discuss and agree upon:
- Parenting time ratios – 50/50? 60/40?
- Parenting time logistics – which days are at whose home?
- How do we choose childcare providers in the future?
- How do we handle holidays? Which holidays do we care about?
- Who will be in charge of passports?
- Which parent will handle primary care appointments?
- Who is responsible for sick days or days off school?
The list of decisions goes on seemingly forever.
As a therapist who has spent the last 12+ years specializing in child therapy and parenting work, I can tell you that I’ve seen all sorts of arrangements and parenting decisions. Most parents I’ve worked with made reasonable decisions about parenting, but ALL parents I’ve worked with have loved their kids deeply.
Some things to be aware of as you’re building
out your parenting plan:
- Don’t try to decide everything at one time. Set aside a few times to talk through your parenting plan and make decisions together.
- The older the child is, the fewer transitions they need in the week. Infants and toddlers need to see each parent frequently through the week (if possible). Teens are more able to handle a schedule in which they alternate just once per week.
- Plan to see the other parent and communicate with them regularly, particularly if your children are younger. Older teens may require less coordination between parents, but younger children need a lot of assistance and guidance from both parents. Maybe one of you is better at helping with math homework, and the other parent is better at helping with baseball practice. Baseball or math likely occur during the child’s time at BOTH homes. Plan to be flexible, plan to be in the same space often.
- Unless you are a trained professional, please do not ask your children where they’d prefer to live. Even if you think it’s obvious what they’ll say. This puts them in an impossible situation. Their loyalty to you will make them feel pressure to say they’d like to live with you, but their feelings of betrayal against the other parent may make them feel guilty. Children (aside from older teens) are too young to determine something as important as their living arrangement. That’s an adult decision.
- You’re going to need to be flexible. Sometimes your co-parent will be running late after work and may not get the kids to you on time. Maybe you lost track of time and you’re late picking up the kids from your co-parent’s home. Please be gracious and flexible with each other. Your children are watching you and learning how to interpret and deal with the world.
- Even if you were the primary caregiver, that doesn’t mean you should have MORE parenting time than their other parent when the divorce occurs. In most marriages, one person carries the bulk of the weight around the house and with the children. This is completely normal. However, when married parents become individual, single parents, most are aware that their day-to-day parenting tasks and responsibilities will increase dramatically. Most that I have seen welcome the change, desiring to draw closer to their kiddo, especially during the process.
- If you and your coparent can’t agree about something in the parenting plan, take a break. Pause, part ways, get some rest, think about how important this may or may not be to you in the long run. Then return, ready to participate in problem solving and creative thinking.
- Remember: You can always get together and change the parenting plan. As your kids get older, their needs and preferences will change, and a good parenting plan will flex with them!
Co-Parenting during and after divorce is very difficult, I’ll be honest. However, I have helped MANY people get there, and be proud of the kind of parent they’ve become. You can do it too!
This article was originally published at the following website. Katiezconsulting.com