Even though you and your children's other parent are no longer together, that does not mean that you can't continue to raise them together. Few co-parenting relationships begin without a rocky start. After all, the parents recently decided to part ways, and the emotions that go along with that may still be raw and require resolution.
In many cases, time provides the distance needed in order to return the focus to developing an amicable parenting relationship. Another item that could help with this process is your parenting plan. Putting in certain provisions that help foster a healthy co-parenting relationship may provide each of you with the tools you need to move forward.
Creating a successful co-parenting relationship
Your parenting plan can be about more than just who has time with the children and when. You could include one or more of the following provisions to help create, at least in writing, what you believe would be a healthy co-parenting relationship:
- Flexibility: Even though everyone needs structure in order for the plan to work, if you program in the need for flexibility when warranted, you could avoid unnecessary conflicts.
- Predetermined Schedule: You, the other parent and the children need a routine to rely on that everyone follows as closely as possible. Children in particular thrive on routine and need to know what's coming next. This may even include a household routine that each parent at least loosely follows no matter which home the children are in at the time.
- Boundaries: Each parent should feel free to use his or her time with the children as they wish, as long as no harm comes to the children. Moreover, you should not attempt to exert control over your ex's personal life, and vice versa -- again, so long as it does not harm the children.
- Childcare: If you need childcare while you are with the children, it may be a good idea to defer to each other first. Having the opportunity to spend additional time with the children and knowing that the other parent trusts you goes a long way.
- Schedule changes: If at all possible, you should discuss any needed changes to the schedule as soon as possible. This gives each parent the time to adjust his or her individual schedule if possible.
- Extracurricular and school events: There are times when you may need to be in the same room together in order to support your children. If your children see both of you supporting them together despite the divorce or separation, it will let them know you love and support them together. You could say the same for holidays, birthdays and other important events.
Outlining how you and the other parent will handle these situations in your parenting plan could make life easier on all of you. Another important issue to address in your parenting plan is how you will resolve disagreements, which are bound to happen.
Getting the help you need to move forward
As you can see, your parenting plan could play a significant role in how you and your ex move forward as parents. To make sure that you cover as many eventualities as possible, it may help to involve someone with experience in creating these plans.