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Co-parenting: Letting go of the past and looking toward the future

When relationships fall apart, often there are hurt feelings, anger, resentment and frustration. When there are children involved, these feelings can spill over, drawing the children onto the battleground. In Norfolk County, it is common for family court judges to order that parents share equal custody of their children, but this may be easier said than done.

Divorce and its effect on children

Parents need to understand that while their relationship has disintegrated, the divorce is going to affect their children in greater ways. A child's world is a small one consisting of home, parents, siblings and school. When something traumatic happens to change their world, it is not uncommon for children to struggle with the sudden uncertainty surrounding them, according to Psychology Today.

As a result, children's trust in their parents can be shaken and they may even doubt if the parents really love them, especially since one parent has moved out of the home and their life. Anxiety and stress over their situation may exhibit itself in issues such as rebellion, anger, bed-wetting and poor academic performance.

Children need both parents

When parents understand the impact that the divorce could have on their children, they realize how important it is for their children to continue building a relationship with each parent and the necessity of parents working together. Despite personal feelings, parents must accept the fact that they will continue to be in each other's lives, to a certain degree, for the simple reason that they share children.

In order for parents to learn to work together, they should look at this new relationship as a sort of business partnership. The purpose of the business is to raise children that are well-adjusted, confident and happy. In order to achieve this goal, parents must set aside grudges and ill feelings for one another and put the focus on their children.

The parenting plan

A parenting plan works in the same way that a business plan works. A good parenting plan will have the following:

  • A schedule outlining when the parent has time with the children
  • Who will be responsible for different issues such as childcare, birthdays, buying gifts and so forth
  • How exchanges between parents will be handled
  • Communication methods used between parents
  • Dispute resolutions relating to parenting
  • House rules

The parenting plan should be tailored to the specific age range of the child. Younger children will need more structured time and focus on building bonds and connections, school-age children will have friends and homework responsibilities to plan for and teen-agers will need their own space, have friends they hang out with and allow adjustments if the teen wants to do something else instead of spend time with parents.

When parents work together and create a plan in how to raise their children with two separate households, children will be able to grow up feeling loved by both parents and develop the skills they need to succeed in adulthood.

To ensure that the parenting plan covers all possible elements of the child's care and welfare, parents should consult with an experienced attorney, who can help them put together a document that will benefit their child.

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