When I am facilitating the Parenting After Separation seminar, one of the goals of the course is to teach parents the importance of creating a detailed parenting plan for how they will parent their children post-separation and divorce. I thought I would reiterate this importance.
Usually, the goal of creating a parenting plan is to come together with the other parent to make a plan which will allow flexibility and adaptability to the changing needs of your children. As their needs change, so too should your willingness to alter your original “plan”. A judge can also impose a parenting plan, but that’s not what this article focuses on.
In a detail parent-made parenting plan, you are able to be very detailed and really think thru how decisions will be made about the kids instead of simply saying “joint decision-making on major decisions”. What types of decisions will be joint? What can be decided by one parent alone? Who may communicate with 3rd party professionals as it relates to the kids’ welfare? What if one of you wants to move away? Or just go traveling with the kids?
Then there’s the other “stuff” which you may not otherwise think about – how will you resolve disagreements if you can’t DIY? What are the guidelines around disciplining the kids? Safety and supervision of the kids? Are there any travel restrictions on the kids? How will relationships with extended families be maintained?
Many parents who come to me to develop a parenting plan have never thought of these types of questions. “My my… that’s a lot of detail” they say. When I help parents develop their plan, I encourage at least the contemplation of these types of questions. It’s up to you as to your level of detail, but I recommend discussing as much as possible about parenting your kids post-separation to avoid opportunities for conflict later.
More ideas are contained in the PAS participant’s manual which can be found online at: http://tinyurl.com/cx79jzf.
How detailed is your parenting plan? Is it useful? Has it avoided conflict for you? Share your stories with me – send me an email or follow me on Twitter at @stephaniecollab and send me a tweet. I want to hear from you! Find archives of my articles on our website.