Divorce Survival Plan for Co-Parents: Part II
Divorce Survival Plan: Part II
Recently, on the Wevorce blog, we began a conversation about co-parenting. We discussed the children’s best interest the importance of communication and offered some basic rules co-parents should follow. Now, to continue the dialogue from Part I, here are a few additional ways to continue building a healthy and secure foundation — so you can not only survive divorce, but begin again successfully.
Create a parenting plan.
Simply put, this is something every divorced couple with children needs, even if you are divorcing in an amicable manner. If you are prepared and have an agreement that outlines all your decisions concerning the health, education, and welfare of your child or children, no matter what is thrown at you down the road it can be handled with grace and reason.
Stuff happens and you might not be able to plan for everything, so have a strategy on what to do when something unexpected comes up — even what to do in case you can’t come to a mutual agreement. The more detail you’ve discussed and decided on, the more likely you, as co-parents, can approach unexpected scenarios in the same positive manner experienced when creating your parenting plan.
Don’t forget to work on a contingency plan for making changes as your children age. Nothing stays the same, so be flexible and work together, now and in the future.
It’s all in the details.
It may feel silly to be deciding what you two will want to do when your child is a teen and wants to get a tattoo when she’s currently only two, but the more detailed decisions you make now, the easier it will be when something actually comes up down the road.
Issues can be as simple as time spent watching TV or more serious topics like how to introduce significant others to the kids. Decide what the sticky issues might be and how you will communicate about them. Will you merely inform the other parent, negotiate a joint agreement, or consult first, then decide?
When discussing how you want to parent in separate homes, consider keeping to similar schedules and house-rules to maintain routine and stability for your children. It can be confusing, even alienating to kids when things are too different.
Keep in mind, it’s not a competition. Allowing frivolous behavior to make you feel like the kids are on your side or trying to convince them to like you best isn’t keeping to the idea of acting in their best interest, but yours. And don’t go overboard, it’s not so much about how your ex puts your child to bed — he likes to play, you like to read them a quiet story — but that they go to bed around the same time.
Shared parenting time.
Don’t forget to set-up an agreement for time spent with each parent. It can be as simple or as complex as needed, but always consider the child’s age, personality, and ability, not just your busy life schedules. Flexibility is good for those last minute changes thrown your way, but keeping to a schedule will make it easier for dependable co-parenting and provide a structured and secure environment for your kids.
There is a multitude of online calendars and apps to keep things running smoothly and even help maintain open communication. Do some research to find one that works for you as co-parents, or read more about the technology available here. It will make life a little less hectic, and that could be a life-saver for busy co-parents running children back and forth.
Besides the visitation schedule, you will need to discuss and decide on a schedule for holidays and vacations and how they will work within individual parenting times. For instance, Mother’s Day may fall on Dad’s scheduled time some years, but the kids may want to observe Mom’s special day. Or vice-versa on Father’s Day. These things matter to children, so plan ahead. And consider offering an invitation to the other parent to share special occasions or significant events when they fall during your parenting time. It will show respect to your co-parent and provide a good role model for your children as well.
Meet on a regular basis to talk about your children.
In that same vein, decide to have regular board meetings to discuss your children’s welfare, at a frequency that you agree upon in your parenting plan. These meetings can be opportunities to remind you as co-parents what is important and what you are working toward … your beautiful children.
Go as far as having an agenda to discuss pertinent issues and check-in with each other about the business of your children: love, protection, and guidance. Make sure you discuss school, medical care, a healthy diet, and plenty of rest — essentials for raising happy, healthy children.
You can never be too prepared.
Developing a Child Custody Parenting Plan Handbook for Parents: A great handbook created by the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, Family Court Services, to provide separated and divorced parents with information to assist in developing child custody parenting plans.
Co-Parenting Communication Guide: An informative guide developed by the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AzAFCC). This guide provides useful tools, tips and good practices for co-parents so they can better communicate with one another.
We believe two people who no longer wish to remain married can begin again, and families can happily transition into two homes, each providing a safe and secure environment for the kids. It takes hard work and a great deal of conscious effort, but we know it can be done. As co-parents, you need to decide you can do it as well, in a different, but workable partnership based on that all-important common denominator, love for your children.