A good, solid, workable parenting plan is worth it's weight in gold. Think of it as a roadmap that will get you off of those confusing unmarked back roads of parenting after divorce and return you to the easy-to-navigate super highway that gets you exactly where you want to go. Sounds nice doesn't it? Having a workable, effective plan is more than nice, it's a necessity for success.
Before I describe the benefits of having an effective parenting plan, let me describe what happens when you don't have one, or have only a bare bones excuse for a plan. Your children pay the price.
They resent their parents for getting divorced in the first place or for putting them in the middle of parental disagreements or power struggles
It's not a pretty picture! And yet, it's one that I often see among my clients. Why? There are a number of reasons that parents end up with only a minimal or ineffective parenting plan. Chief among them is that parents are trying to think through how they are going to parent their children after divorce during one of the most stressful, emotion-filled times of their lives. It is an overwhelming, daunting task for even the best of parents.
Many attorneys are well informed and helpful and the divorcing couple is able to craft a good, workable plan. Unfortunately though, there are attorneys who don't have a very good handle on how to think through the numerous details involved in creating a parenting agreement that works. The families they represent don't do as well.
And many families don't ever work with an attorney or mediator, but rather represent themselves in do-it-yourself-divorces. It is pure luck as to whether they are able to design an effective, comprehensive parenting plan.
Earlier I said that having a well-designed plan is worth it's weight in gold to parents. I mean that. When the day-to-day decisions of your life as a parent are planned for and running like clockwork, children and adults alike can breathe easy. When you know how you are going to handle special events, holidays, vacations, medical care etc. your brain and your blood pressure are going to thank you. Of course there will always be some event that hasn't been planned for - just to keep you on your toes! After all we are talking about human families here. But generally, your life and the lives of your children will go much more smoothly.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of having a good parenting plan:
Remember this about your parenting plan: one size does not fit all. The plan you and your child's other parent develop will be as unique as each of the individuals in your divorced family. The ideal plan will take into consideration all of your family members' needs - especially your children's needs. Try to see this experience through your children's eyes. It will likely be quite different from yours.
Below is a parenting plan template that will help you make your own parenting plan: