Making Parenting Time Better for Kids and Parents
The adjustments that need to be made in the aftermath of a divorce can be stressful and difficult for all members of the family, but children’s needs should be the first priority for their parents. Fortunately, having happy and well-adjusted children can have positive effects on the ability of their parents to make their own adjustments.
Parenting plans are crafted with the children’s best interests in mind. However, if you have younger children at the time of your divorce, your children’s needs will change dramatically as they get older. While all children benefit from consistency, predictability and routine, and you’ll need to account for your children’s specific needs, there are some general approaches to consider for different age groups.
- Infants and toddlers need to feel a sense of comfort and security. To aid in this, send your child to the other parent’s house with familiar toys, stuffed animals, a blanket and a photo of yourself. Overnight visits can happen once the child transitions more easily between homes.
- Preschoolers should begin to feel more comfortable having overnight stays with the other parent, aided by familiar belongings from their primary home. Parents should also take care not to disparage each other in front of preschoolers and older children.
- Elementary school-aged children can handle more frequent and lengthier visits, as well as communication by phone or electronically. It’s also important for parents to encourage extracurricular activities and friendships.
- Adolescents may be more interested in spending time with friends than with family, so a parenting schedule that can accommodate increasing independence is ideal, and should even include the child’s input. Remember that your adolescent will likely be unpredictable, and that your former spouse isn’t automatically at fault.
Creating a solid parent plan or modifying an existing arrangement to meet your children’s developing needs can be as difficult as any part of your divorce, and you may decide you would benefit from the input of an experienced family law attorney. Speak with a St. Paul lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart to learn more about ideal time-sharing arrangements.