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Have a 100% relationship with your kids
separation, even if you achieve 50/50 residential time-sharing, will you
have a 100% meaningful relationship with your child?
parents believe joint child custody is about sharing the kids 50/50 and they
fight strenuously to achieve this. Trouble is, kids canít be cut in
half. Wise old King Solomon knew that back in 950 B.C.
the story goes, two women came to Solomon, each claiming to be the mother
of a baby boy. They sought his direction on who should continue to parent
the child. They both argued their case strenuously. Finally, Solomon
arrived at a solution. He ordered that the child be cut in two. With his
order in hand, one of the two women stepped forward and relinquished her
claim to the child. She understood that to cut the child in two would
result in his death. Upon hearing her change of position, Solomon
recognized her as the true mother and awarded her the child.
separated parents fight believing that only a rigid 50/50 residential
sharing of the child is fair and will provide for their ongoing
relationship. As the parents fight over the issue of time, the concept of
meaningfulness is lost. From the childís perspective, what is meaningful
is not equal distribution of time. Rather, important to the child is the
nature, quality and purpose of time together with family members. You can
win 50/50 residence, but never succeed in a meaningful relationship with
your child. You can win the battle, yet lose the war.
the end, parents may well be advised to worry less about 50/50
time-sharing and more about meaningfulness - the nature, quality and
purpose of time together with their kids. It is this meaningfulness that
the child will use to determine their lifelong relationship to each parent
as time goes on.
to the child is determined by how well each parent protects them from
parental conflict and how each parent participates in matters of concern
to the child (as opposed to the parent). From the childís perspective,
meaningful is who takes them to sports practice at 5:30 in the morning;
who helps them with their math; who corrects them when they are out of
line; who acts with good moral character.
separated parents, starting with the needs of the child, each parent can
assume responsibilities, sometimes based upon past patterns and at other
times based upon newly negotiated responsibilities. The issue is
determining how to support the child according to the childís
developmental needs and activities. This wonít always make for a week
clearly defined by alternate weekends and mid week visits. Rather it can
be a week determined by soccer, swimming, ballet and homework. This will
take some flexibility.
the eyes of the child, the parentís involvement will be meaningful as
opposed to conflict laden. Worrying less about 50/50 and more about the
childís needs, the parents may find that the actual time varies from
week to week or month to month, sometimes favouring one parent, then the
other. The childís experience is parents who are mutually available when
necessary. The child doesnít have to miss an event because they are with
one parent or the other. Extra-curricular activities are not used as
weapons to exclude either parent but as a structure to organize each
parentís time with the child. Parent and child can concentrate on
enjoying each otherís company. This way both parents can experience a
100% meaningful relationship with the child.
custody is about parents sharing responsibilities and decision-making
authority. The actual relationship with the children will be more
meaningful based more upon the nature, quality and purpose of time
together rather than equal time spent. Work it out accordingly and the
children will thrive.
help structuring a parenting plan? Use the Parenting
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org