A well-crafted parenting plan is a necessity for successful co-parenting after divorce. Knowing the answers to these key questions can help you create a parenting plan that will serve your children now and in the future.

By Donald A. Gordon Ph.D. and Jack Arbuthnot Ph.D.

There are several important issues you should think about as you design your parenting plan.

Guiding Questions for Parenting Plans

  1. What goals for your children do you both share?
  2. How will you continue to be effective parents in separate households?
  3. Do you only want to solve your legal matters, or also your family issues?
  4. How do you want your children to look back on this time and on your behavior as parents?

Your answers to these questions will help you greatly in drafting a parenting plan that makes sense to you both and works for your unique family.

To create your plan, you need to spend time talking. Discuss the goals you have for your children. Talk about what their childhood should be like. Discuss what you want them to be like both as children and adults. Talk about what you each can contribute to these goals. You can even write it down on paper and share it with your children, which demonstrates that you both care about them. You set an example of cooperation when your children see you working together for their welfare. Even though it may require a heroic effort on your part, it will make a world of difference to your children.

Parenting is difficult under the most ideal circumstances. It is more of a challenge when done from two households. Plan how you will coordinate your efforts. There’s planning the big parenting issues – for example, what schools will your children attend, and what faith they should be raised in or not. You also will need to plan for the small, day-to-day running of your children’s lives, such as how do they get from one activity to the next, what parties are they allowed to attend, ensuring homework gets done.

It will be important to set up regular meetings, emails, or phone calls. Through regular communication you can catch up on important developments, work out schedules and discuss concerns.

Your parenting plan spells out conditions and terms for how you agree to work together to raise your children over time and helps you keep your focus on your new family structure. Take the time to design a good plan. The plan should be healthy and flexible.

Someday your child will judge how well you both handled this difficult time. More importantly, as young adults, they will look back on their childhood and how their parents cooperated, or not, with one another. They’ll be relieved and appreciative if you put their interests ahead of your “marital issues.”

What About The Children coverThis article was adapted with permission from What About the Children? A Simple Guide For Divorced/Separated And Divorcing Parents (CDE, eighth edition, 2011) by Donald A. Gordon Ph.D. and Jack Arbuthnot Ph.D. Based in Athens, OH, the Center for Divorce Education (CDE) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1987 by a consortium of attorneys and psychologists. The CDE is dedicated to advocating for children and helping parents to minimize the harmful effects that divorce and separation has on children. www.divorce-education.com

Related Articles

For more information about children’s issues during separation and divorce, visit www.DivorceMagazine.com – you’ll find lots of informative articles on the subject.

See also:
How Divorce Affects Young Children
How Divorce Affects Preteens
How Divorce Affects Teenagers
How Divorce Affects Preschoolers