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“Child-Up Parenting Plan”
Facilitating child development post-separation…
parental involvement provides for a lifelong relationship with children.
For separated or divorced parents this can be achieved by a dynamic
“child-up parenting plan” approach as opposed to thinking in terms of
child custody and/or access..
“child-up parenting plan” approach assumes children need and want the
best relationship possible with both parents and that the involvement of
both parents is important to the emotional health of children now and for
their future. Essential to
achieving a plan then is an understanding of the developmental needs of
children from current age to when they leave home.
may require education on their children’s needs and how these needs
change as they grow. Needs may be related to education, religion, health,
extra-curricular activities, residence and daily care. The child-up
approach takes all these into account and then builds upon the resources,
availability and desires of each parent to meet these needs over time. If
either parent is lacking in knowledge, skill or ability, the plan may also
include counselling or parenting classes. The basic belief is that parents
will do whatever is necessary to best meet their children’s needs and
will undertake activities to prepare themselves if necessary.
will have to adapt to different stages according to their children’s
development. The parenting plan must therefore be dynamic, as it will need
to change with time.
infant children, one parent may be more relied upon to provide day-to-day
care. However, the other
parent should be provided opportunity to bond and form attachments through
frequent visits. As children become toddlers, pre-schoolers and then
school aged, they are increasingly exposed to the world. So rather than an
arbitrary rule that provides a mid week visit, parents can negotiate and
share responsibilities for transportation or swimming lessons or
after-school activities. Sharing responsibilities pragmatically changes
parents’ duration, frequency, time, activity and exposure to their
children in a way that is natural.
other words, parental time with children is as much task-specific as
time-directed. As the demands of school increase, one parent may provide
assistance with math homework, while the other with English. The key is to
develop the parenting plan for meaningful, goal directed and structured
activity aimed towards meeting the needs of children at particular ages.
Close parent-child relationships form through positive involvement with
typical daily tasks.
benefits of sharing parental responsibilities through a “child-up
parenting plan” is the reduced risk of one parent taking on the role of
the disciplinarian while the other parent develops a kind of fantasyland
relationship. Children benefit from access to both parents according to
their needs and parental abilities. Further, it distributes the demands
placed upon parents and can reduce their stress.
parental involvement throughout childhood will determine how well children
are able to accept parental guidance and direction come adolescence. This
will be vital and protective at this time in their lives. While many
people think that peer pressure has more influence on teen behaviour, this
is only true for teens who have tenuous parental relationships. Parents
who have long established, good and significant relationship with their
children can actually have more influence on them during adolescence than
their teen peers.
now will determine relationships and well-being later. If a “child-up
parenting plan” is developed and followed, both parents can be dancing
at their children’s wedding and then taking turns babysitting
approach will work best with parents who are able to freely negotiate.)
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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