Even committed and happily married couples get into arguments about how to parent their children. When you divorce, co-parenting conflicts are all but inevitable. From disputes about who has to provide more homework support to disagreements about curfew, you and your ex are going to have to navigate all of the same parenting concerns but now across two separate households.
Being proactive when creating or updating your parenting plan can help you avoid these conflicts. Addressing the three concerns below in addition to scheduling issues can lead to smoother co-parenting.
What do you expect from your children?
Do you have a gifted child whom you expect to maintain near-perfect grades? Do you want to encourage physical fitness and involvement in sports? For children to thrive, they need support, encouragement and consistent goals.
Reaching an agreement about what you want from your children now will make it easier for you to push your children towards success even after the divorce.
What rules should the children follow?
Household rules often reflect your religious beliefs, cultural background and socioeconomic status. The age of your children will also influence what rules they have to follow.
You probably don’t need a rule limiting mobile phone use for 5-year-olds, but a 15-year-old absolutely needs guidance about digital technology. Curfews, limitations on socialization and penalties for misbehavior should be consistent at both houses. That means you will have to negotiate agreements and then uphold them at each house.
What will you do about special days for your children?
In your parenting plan, you probably already split up holidays, weekends, school vacations and birthdays. Have you considered sports, dance recitals and academic award ceremonies?
There are many experiences your children will have during their school life that you cannot reasonably divide because they only occur once. You need to have a fair system for handling these special days and events as they arise. You might even be able to agree to both be present for events that won’t repeat in the future so that the children feel loved and supported.