Parents Need Agreement to Protect Kids in Ugly Divorces
By: Dwight Bain
People ending their marriage through divorce still have a responsibility to be good parents. These are key issues to discuss in the process of protecting your kids from experiencing more emotional pain.
Map out your thoughts, and then work together with the other parent of your children to create a reasonable way to be effective as parents, while not placing kids in the middle of parental conflicts.
(Remember, while these are essential parenting issues to protect the emotions of your children this is not a legal action. If you have legal questions about how the divorce process affects your children, you should discuss them with an attorney).
1. How can the children spend time with their parents to avoid feeling rejected?
2. What schedule will work for the children to see parents on weekdays?
3. What schedule will work for the children to see parents on the weekends?
4. What schedule will work for the children to have connection as a family on holidays,
school breaks or in the summer?
5. How can the children have regular access to each parent by telephone?
6. Who do the parents agree is a safe person to help with pick-up/drop off?
7. How can we include other family members so that they don’t lose contact with the kids? (especially Grandparents)
8. How can we preserve the family traditions built during the marriage around major events like
Christmas or Thanksgiving?
9. What is a realistic way for children to stay connected to their parents on Mother’s Day or
10. What is a realistic way to honor the birthday of a child without taking the focus off of their
special day due to parental or extended family conflict?
11. When a disagreement may come up regarding what is best for our children/child,
how will we handle it?
12. What schools will work best for our children, and how will be pay for any educational expenses?
13. What is a reasonable way for each of us as parents to stay connected with our children’s school experience, grades, teacher meetings and so on?
14. How will we handle the expenses of medical care, dental care, mental health care and how can we communicate about those visits?
15. What plan will we follow if either parent has to relocate due to work?
16. How do we want our children raised regarding religious experiences, church/temple or youth group activity?
17. Can we agree as parents to follow the same rules of conduct for our children to avoid confusion or ‘splitting’ of parental authority?
18. Can we agree as parents about the use of tobacco or alcohol in front of our children?
19. Can we agree as parents with regard to potential safety hazards that our children may be exposed to, (e.g. the availability of firearms, use of guns, boating or four wheel off-road vehicles or drug/alcohol use on the premises or any potential exposure to unsafe circumstances)
20. Can we agree as parents to promote and support a positive relationship between the
children and the other parent?
21. Can we agree as parents to not expose our children to criticism, blaming or put-downs of the other parent?
22. Can we agree as parents to always treat the other parent respectfully and courteously?
23. Can we agree as parents o not use the children as a go-between to communicate messages
or to make plans with the other parent?
24. Can we as parents agree to be adaptable and flexible in resolving disagreements?
25. Can we as parents agree to not assume something is true before checking it out with the other parent?
26. Can we as parents agree to not side with the children in order to put the other parent in disfavor?
27. Can we as parents agree to mutually seek out a professional opinion regarding any dispute about the children and agree to abide by it?
28. Can we as parents agree to work cooperatively to resolve whatever problem behaviors or school problems the children may experience?
29. Can we as parents agree to not plan activities for the children at times when they are scheduled to be with the other parent?
30. Can we as parents agree to pick up and return children promptly at agreed upon times?
31. Can we as parents agree to do nothing to make my children feel badly about loving the other parent?
32. Can we as parents agree to keep the other parent well informed about the children progress in school and major activities in which they may participate in, (like drama, sports, music, or computer classes and so on)
33. Can we as parents agree to acknowledge that the single most powerful factor affecting a child’s psychological and emotional well-being following a divorce is the degree to which their parents continue to fight over them, so we each realize that we must do everything in our power to be generous, gracious and forgiving toward each other as ex-spouses in order to reduce the potential for conflict.
34. Finally, can we agree as parents to not expose our children to harm by inappropriate or excessive use of alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling or any other hazardous physical activities?
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About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is Certified Family Law Mediator, a Nationally Certified Counselor, and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.