Developing a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex often requires rigorous attention to detail when creating your parenting plan. The more issues you address carefully in the parenting plan, the fewer unexpected conflicts and unresolvable arguments you will likely have in the future. You will always be able to turn to the written plan for guidance.
There are many considerations which vary from family to family depending on the number of children, their ages and their needs. However, certain issues are relatively universal.
There should be some standard expectations about performance in school, rules about curfew and socialization and extracurricular activities, as well as guidelines for medical decision-making. Insuring that both parents agree on all of these terms helps reduce future conflict.
Parents also need to discuss how to split time fairly, during the school year, over vacations and for the summer. One consideration parents all too often overlook is the need for children in multiple-child families to have one-on-one time with each parent.
Group time is important, but individual bonding time matters too
It is a positive and healthy thing for your children to spend time with you and all of their siblings together. Spending the night with each of their parents, sharing meals as a family and even going to special events are all fun things for your entire family to do together. It helps your children develop social skills and reinforces the family unit after the trauma of a divorce.
However, you should not sacrifice the needs of each child for the benefit of the whole family. In general, children need at least 30 minutes of quality bonding time with each parent every week. In large families, this kind of attention can be hard to arrange. That is why working it into the parenting plan is a good idea.
Address split custody days in your parenting plan
A simple way to ensure that each parent has an opportunity to bond with each of the children is to address the issue in the parenting plan as it develops. For a family with two children, it is relatively easy, as the parents can agree to split custody days during which they get to spend time with each child individually while the other parent is with the other child.
Larger families may require more planning or even the help of a babysitter to coordinate adequate bonding time for individual children. However, it is very important to include for the sake of the kids.
That one-on-one time between child and parent is a time when the child can open up about their struggles at school, recent developments in their social life and how they feel in general. If the children can only interact with their parents in a group setting, many of their important emotional and social needs may go uncommunicated and thus, unmet.