Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

What might your kids want to see when it comes to co-parenting?

No matter how much you attempt to insulate your children from your divorce, you can't avoid it affecting them. The life they knew is gone, and big changes are coming. Even though you and your future former spouse agree to focus on your children as you create a custody agreement and parenting plan, you could be missing crucial pieces of information.

Even though no one can deny that you are the parents and that what you say goes, it may help to view your future co-parenting relationship through the eyes of your children. After all, your goal may be to ensure that your children continue to have as much access to both parents as possible, but for them, that may go well beyond making sure they get as close to equal time with each of you as possible.

What would your kids like to see in the future?

Your children may understand that their parents won't be getting back together, but they may have difficulty understanding why you can't get along well enough to share experiences with them. For instance, you may want to consider agreements regarding sharing the following events as a family:

  • The children's birthdays: Kids often want to share their birthdays with both of their parents. Sure, it might be cool to have two birthday parties at least once, but more than likely, they may wonder why the two of you wouldn't want to share these days, especially for momentous birthdays such as reaching double digits or turning 16.
  • The children's academic and extracurricular activities: Your child may only score the winning touchdown, goal or basket once. It would be nice if both parents were in the stands cheering them on together. The same goes for dance recitals, plays or even academic events. Your child may also want to know that both of you were there when he or she received an award for academic performance.
  • The holidays: Just about every family has some holiday traditions that the children have come to relish. Especially in the first years after the divorce, your children may want to know that the two of you can be with them on those one or two days a year.
  • The need for a babysitter: Your children may also question why they need a babysitter when the other parent could spend additional time with them.

Many things in life will change after a divorce, but the one thing that doesn't ever change for your children is that you are their parents. They probably want both of you to share the highlights and special occasions of their lives with them despite the divorce. If you and the other parent are able to provide that gift to them, they may look back at their childhoods as adults knowing that your love for and support of them never wavered.

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