A parenting plan is a part of almost every divorce. Most parenting plans will outline many of the key factors of how two separated parents will take care of their children, including schedules for which parent gets the child when, details about time and place for exchange, some holiday scheduling considerations and other factors involved in parenting.
One thing that can get lost in a parenting plan, though, is parenting style. Everyone has a slightly different approach to parenting, even within a marriage. Married parents will generally meet somewhere in the middle in terms of their various styles of parenting. In the context of parenting plans, with the heavy focus on scheduling and administrative details, there is often not much spent on how you will parent your child.
In Utah, the laws that govern parental neglect have been loosened considerably, according to the ABA Journal. There is a lot more room in the new laws for parents to give their kids free reign to accept greater responsibility for themselves as their maturity levels dictate. Activities like going to the park alone or biking to school, etc., are now more firmly in the purview of parents rather than given a specific age minimum by the state.
Although these laws do not govern Ohio or West Virginia, and they don’t govern parenting plans specifically, they bring up an interesting point in terms of parenting plans.
With the focus on details and scheduling in parenting plans, often the children end up being severely limited in the activities they’re allowed to engage in and the responsibility they can take on.
If one of the primary goals of parenting is to raise responsible adults, the best way to do that is to help them take on responsibility as they are growing up.
This is more challenging in a parenting plan situation, in part because of the challenges of raising the child with only one active parent at a time, and because of the challenges of the parenting plan itself.
For separated parents, it is important to give your child the opportunity to take responsibility and to engage in activities that help them grow and discover who they are. This approach requires a degree of trust between the parents. Different parenting styles often clash and what one parent might think is acceptable in terms of free liberty for the child might make the other parent extremely nervous.
One option is to work through some of these issues and work them into a creative parenting plan. That way, if problems arise down the road you will have already addressed some of the key concepts and come to some agreement as to parenting style, which can minimize the conflict.