This period is also known as the “pre-teen years,” as these children are preparing to make the leap into puberty and adolescence. They have a greater capacity to understand time, to appreciate future plans and schedules, and to balance different values and parental practices that might exist in their two residences. Children this age tend to be rule bound and may align themselves with one parent. If your child refuses to see the other parent, you should seek assistance from a professional family counselor.
Ten to twelve year olds should be encouraged to engage in a variety of activities outside the home. Such participation helps children develop social and intellectual skills in preparation for the greater independence and demands of adolescence. Parents should allow their children to express feelings about the need for greater control over their own time while making it clear that parents make the final decisions. Balancing time with parents, friends and activities requires flexibility and commitment to maintaining a strong relationship with both parents. Parental support of increased independence will contribute to the child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
- School-age children can do well with many different parenting plans as long as they provide for frequent contact with both parents.
- Where possible, plans should include overnights during the week and on weekends.
- Some options include alternating weekends with three or four overnights, split weeks or alternating weeks.
- Children should be given the opportunity and privacy to call the other parent.
- Children’s preferences should be considered and respected. Remember that parents should still make the final decision.
- It is important to accommodate the child’s social activities and commitments.
Source: Planning for Shared Parenting – A Guide for Parents Living Apart. Published by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.