Many parents wait until issues arise in their families to address certain topics. They don’t necessarily have a plan or even a specific rule in place until after something changes for their family. When parents live together, they have an opportunity to discuss every family issue as it arises.
However, if they begin living separately or divorce, they may have a harder time negotiating various parenting challenges. Disagreements about parenting issues might lead to conflict that strains the co-parenting relationship. There are certain issues that will arise in almost every family at some point, and co-parents can potentially benefit from preemptively addressing those issues in their parenting plans.
Sports and extracurricular activities
Some parents come from a culture where full-contact sports are commonplace, and others cannot dismiss the risk of concussion just for camaraderie or tradition. Different extracurricular activities ranging from sports and theater to student government create different obligations for children and different risks for the family. Parents may need to have rules in place regarding what extracurricular activities are appropriate and what standards children need to meet if they want to engage in those activities.
Is there a child in the family who is very good with their hands and who could likely develop a career in a skilled trade? Is one of the children in the family academically inclined and likely to pursue a professional career in medicine, engineering or accountancy? Parents may need to discuss both what type of schools they will enroll the children in and also how they intend to cover other costs, ranging from college expenses and standardized tests to cost of living expenses while someone is an apprentice who doesn’t make much money, if they want to fully support their children’s optimal development.
Discipline and rules
It is easiest for parents to push their children to achieve more and to better comply with household rules when the expectations are the same at both houses. The adults in the family can agree ahead of time on what they expect from the children. They can also craft rules about how they will – and will not – engage in discipline. Discrepancies in disciplinary tactics could cause tension between the parents or even lead to claims that one parent mistreats the children. Therefore, clarifying what kind of discipline is appropriate ahead of time is often in the best interest of the entire family.
Discussing key parenting decisions and including details about those conversations in a parenting plan may make it much easier for adults to cooperate – and hold one another accountable – in a co-parenting relationship. Co-parents who are unsure of how to create the most effective parenting plan terms can seek legal guidance at any time.