Parenting Plan Effects on Children

Children Benefit When Parents

  • Communicate with each other in a courteous “businesslike” manner.
  • Are on time and have children ready at exchange time.
  • Avoid any communication that may lead to conflict at exchange time.
  • Encourage the children to carry “important” items such as clothing, toys and security blankets with them between the parents’ homes.
  • Follow reasonably similar routines for mealtime, bedtime and homework time.
  • Communicate about rules and discipline in order to handle them in similar ways.
  • Support contact with grandparents and other extended family so the children do not experience a sense of loss.
  • Are flexible in developing parenting plans to accommodate their child’s extracurricular activities and special family celebrations.
  • Make time to spend alone with their children when the parent has a new partner.
  • Are with their children during scheduled times and communicate with their children when they cannot be with them.
  • Respect the other parent’s scheduled times with children and do not schedule plans that will conflict.
  • Discuss any proposed schedule changes directly with the other parent.
  • Support the child’s relationship with the other parent and trust the other’s parenting skills.
  • Assure the children that they did not cause the divorce and that they do not have the power to reverse the process.

Children Are Hurt When Parents

  • Encourage children to choose between them.
  • Make promises they do not keep.
  • Criticize the other parent to the child or in the child’s range of hearing.
  • Use the child as a messenger or negotiator or seek information about the other parent from the child.
  • Withhold access to the child for any reason unless there are safety
  • Involve the child in the court process or share legal information.
  • Introduce a new partner without adequate preparation. Remember that children need time to grieve the loss of family as they knew it and may not be ready to accept a new partner.

Parents should remember that a child’s experience of divorce differs from their own. A child can often benefit from participation in school-based groups for children of divorce. Some children have greater difficulty in adjusting to their parents’ separation. If your child exhibits troublesome behavior over time, consider seeking help from a specialist experienced in dealing with child development and divorce.

Source: Planning for Shared Parenting – A Guide for Parents Living Apart. Published by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.