Creating a Brilliant Parenting Plan That Shows You’re a Loving Parent
Are you in the midst of a not-so-amicable divorce with children involved?
Even if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are parting on okay terms, it’s essential you have a parenting plan in place. A parenting plan will give your children the structure and stability they need during this difficult transition.
It’s the ultimate way to show that you’re a loving parent.
What Exactly Is a Parenting Plan?
As you’re moving through the legal proceedings of a divorce, it’s important that your kids don’t feel stuck in the middle.
Your divorce is at least as difficult for them as it is for you – just for different reasons. Stability and a routine they can count on will help make the split easier for them.
A parenting plan provides this. And as any divorce attorney can attest, it’s crucial that you create this plan right away.
This will allow your children to more quickly and easily adjust to their new circumstances.
We’ll go over seven tips for crafting an effective parenting plan.
1. Be Clear About Your Rights
Unless you’ve done something terribly egregious, you have the right to parent your children 50% of the time. That means you share the same rights with your ex to be a regular part of your children’s lives.
With shared legal and shared physical custody, you are EACH entitled to regular visitation with your children. This includes any aspects of their lives that require decisions.
You each have a right to contribute to the decision-making process and one parent should not usurp the other. No matter how much you may disagree on other things. This needs to be a joint operation.
Plan to attend, if possible, school meetings, medical appointments, and any other important events that involve the well-being of your child.
2. Have Flexibility in Regards to Custody
If your divorce is fueled by anger or resentment, you may think that taking the lion’s share of custody shows that you’re a more caring and loving parent.
This just isn’t the case.
Strongly consider the relationship your children have with both you and your ex. Regardless of your feelings` about your ex, your children may have a very healthy connection with them.
If you know in your heart that they still love and need this person, then try to be open to more shared custody than you may want. In the long run, this will be healthiest for everyone involved.
3. Listen to What Your Children Want
If your children are very young, this won’t apply quite as much. It’s difficult for them to verbalize what they want from a custody arrangement.
Late elementary school-aged children, and certainly tweens and teens, are likely to have some strong opinions about where they want to live and with whom.
Listening to what they want doesn’t mean honoring unreasonable demands, of course. But if you have a teenager who is a junior in high school, he or she may want to live in the house closest to that school during the week so as to stay there through graduation.
Or if you’ve traditionally been an absent parent or you’re on the road a lot, your children may not feel as inclined to stay with you.
Even if that hurts, you have to honor that it’s a legitimate concern.
4. Consider Your Support System
When you’re considering custody, it’s important to remember you’ll be doing this as a single parent. That’s a lot more difficult.
What sort of support do you have in place when you occasionally need another adult? If you have a lot of family in town or a large network of friends, you’ll be a lot better equipped for handling the challenges of single parenthood.
You should also consider how the divorce will impact that system. Some friends will likely gravitate toward your ex. And any in-laws that were previously providing babysitting services may be fine helping your spouse, but not as willing to help you.
5. Voice Legitimate Concerns
If your concerns about your ex’s ability to parent are legitimate and not rooted in blind hatred, then it’s critical that you voice them.
This isn’t about a parenting style issue.
But if you feel that there may be real issues with drinking, drugs, gambling or any other behavior that would negatively impact your children, be clear about these concerns at the onset.
Trying to change a custody arrangement later is much more problematic.
6. Respect the Needs of Your Children
Resist the urge to talk poorly about your ex-spouse, thinking that will increase your chances of more custody. It won’t.
It’s important that your children understand that both you and your ex still love them and that you both want to be in their lives.
When you have custody, show your children respect by just fully being with them and remaining charitable should the topic of your ex arise.
Talking your children’s other parent down only confuses and upsets them. And as long as your ex isn’t doing anything in his or her personal life that negatively impacts your children, then it’s none of your business.
Your best bet is to move on and just enjoy the time you have with your kids.
7. Stick to One Form of Communication with Your Ex
Lacking the ability to communicate is often a component of divorce.
So when creating your parenting plan, be sure to have a clear plan of how you two will communicate.
With so many options now – texting, calling, emailing, FaceTime, etc. – it’s too easy for communications to get lost in the shuffle.
To alleviate this, establish a single form of communication you will use when discussing issues with your kid.
Many couples chose online software programs that enable parents to build calendars and then send messages to one another.
Plus, this method allows for all your interactions to be recorded in one place – which could come in helpful if there are potential court dates in the future.
Make Your Parenting Plan the Top Priority
During your divorce, it’s of the utmost importance that your kids don’t feel forgotten or lost in the shuffle.
A parenting plan will ensure these don’t happen. And it shows them that you’re there for them and that you still love them – no matter what.
And keep checking back with our blog for more helpful tips and advice.