Parenting plans for dummies: why it's so important to have a plan in place when you divorce

The main reason to have a parenting plan, I think, is so that both parties are on notice that they both will play and are expected to play a parenting role in the lives of their children. Prior to this slow transition to mandating parenting plans in some states (like Georgia) custody battles have all been about which parent will have the power in the lives of the children, and which parent will be relegated to the role of “visiting relative.” The courts and society are slowly waking up to the fact that a parent is not a “visiting relative” who gets “visitation” with their kids. A parent is a parent. There is almost no other role we can play that is more important in the lives of another. No one should have the right to rob a child of the rich experience of having two parents who love him or her and who continue to play a parenting role in his or her life – in spite of a divorce of the parents.
Parents divorce other parents. They do not divorce their children. At least, not normally. But too many times, after a divorce, one parent completely tries to dominate the script of the children’s lives and often, you will find parents who use the children as pawns, and who use the children to hurt their ex spouse. This is so wrong. It is such a disservice to children who can only benefit and have a more well rounded life experience by having both parents in their lives.
Children should continue to have certain routines with their parents – mother’s day celebrating moms, father’s day celebrating with dad; Christmas Holidays, Easter, Summer, Birthday traditions. All of the traditions that a child has become accustomed to and new traditions that evolve over the years should continue to be respected and honored, so that this sense of loss does not permeate the child’s life and reality.
The courts can help the situation by mandating parenting plans for every case. It should not be an option. Every divorce that involves children should be required to also present the court with a parenting plan. It should not be left to the discretion of the “power” parent how much time the other parent will get to spend with their child as a “visitor.” A clear message must be embedded in the consciousness of every parent in this country. Children, if they are lucky, have two parents. They need their mothers just as much as they need their fathers. If they are fortunate to have both of these, then neither parent should have the right or discretion to relegate the other parent to being just a visitor in the life of their child.
Any dummy can see that at the end of the day, it’s best for children, all things held equal, to have both parents in their lives.
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