A family that has gone through a divorce knows its fair share of challenges, and when children are involved, life after this major event can be complicated. All too often, parents are focused on their own needs during this emotional process and forget that their children should be their number one priority. When it comes to a parenting plan, do you know how to create a system that puts your children first? If not, that’s ok, because we have some basic tips and recommendations for anyone who needs an effective parenting plan.
If you thought the divorce was hard on you, imagine how your children feel. No matter the age of your kids, they are still very aware of the emotional changes that have taken place within your family. As tempting as it is to shuffle your kids back and forth between you and your ex whenever time permits, it will create a huge problem for your children.
Schedules for school time, weekends, holidays, and summer breaks all need to be thoughtfully crafted so that your children feel like what they want matters. Creating a relatively permanent system, with some flexibility for emergencies, gives your kids the ability to know what to expect and to be better able to plan their own social activities. When they know who’s house they’ll be at during which times, you reinforce the importance of routines.
Be Clear on Rules
When it comes to things like field trips, having friends over, or staying out late, one parent might often hear that the other parent lets them do certain things and so they too should have the same rules. Putting yourselves in this position not only creates frustration for the adults, but confuses your kids. Boundaries that aren’t clear create upset feelings and can cause older children to try to manipulate the rules.
Set ground rules, in writing if needed, for what happens at each parent’s house. If mom is ok with sleepovers but dad isn’t, that needs to be discussed. What about when homework gets done or chores need to be completed? No element of daily life is too small to be talked about ahead of time. When your kids are crystal clear on what’s expected of them, it will create an opportunity for them to succeed and know their limits.
Have Some Amount of Flexibility
This might seem contrary to the above guidance, but life can throw some changes at your parenting plan and cause it all to fall apart. For example, what if your ex was offered a job promotion all the way across the country? That requires a great deal of careful thought and consideration to see what works best for the adults and the children.
Ultimately, don’t force your kids to conform to the plan that works best for you. As long as the requests they make for when they stay with the other parent are reasonable, you should do your best to work them into the plan. Creating a parenting plan with your children as the focus will help to reestablish trust, safety, and love in a family dynamic that has dramatically changed.
Are you going through a divorce and worry about the best interests of your children? Call Topham Family Law today; we will help you to put your kids first while going through this difficult time.