“Developing an effective parenting plan is like fitting a child for a pair of shoes. Important considerations are support, comfort, function and durability — and the knowledge that the same pair of shoes is not likely to continue to fit as the child grows.” (Deborah Clemmensen, M.Eq., Child Specialist)
That’s a great answer! In a strong co-parenting relationship, parents recognize that what starts out as a good fit for younger children may need to give way to a revised parenting plan as children mature with different needs, schedules and activities. Working together to anticipate and respond to kids needs with adjustments to the parenting plan insures that the plan adequately supports kids physically and emotionally, parents work together to facilitate academics, activities and healthy peer relationships in as comfortable a fashion as reasonable, functions in the best interests of the children, and works for the two-home family (is durable).
However, on-going change and struggle over the parenting plan/residential schedule is not good for kids.
Because changing a parenting plan should not be taken lightly and requires mutual agreement (unless the court steps in), co-parents strive to find the sweet spot between ensuring predictability, structure, and appropriate independence for each home while remaining aware of the children’s changing needs. When co-parents work together to up-date their parenting plan to match developmental appropriateness /kids’ needs, kids and two-home families benefit.
In designing your parenting plan, ask your divorce/co-parent team about how best to “build in” developmental responsiveness to your children’s growing needs. You might consider benchmarks like transitioning into full-time school, or from elementary into middle school, or middle into high school.
Summer schedules often create a natural break from the school-year rhythm and offer a good time for schedule changes and adjustment prior to returning to the classroom in fall.
You know your children and what best serves the stability and function of your two-home family. All of these considerations, guide co-parents as they consider how and when to make changes to the parenting plan.