Divorcing parents promote their children’s well-being by retooling their co-parenting relationship early in the divorce process. Adding new ground rules to old shared values redirects parents’ focus from their own conflict to the children’s needs. It also creates momentum for a long-term parenting plan and a co-parenting relationship that produces healthier children.
Here are a dozen Parenting Goal Statement staples:
➢ We will shield our children from our conflict.
➢ We will not use our children as messengers or confidants.
➢ We will not put our children in the position of “choosing sides.”
➢ We will keep financial issues separate from child-related issues.
➢ We will not criticize each other to, or in the presence of, our children. (Parents who devalue each other can cause children to wonder what is wrong with them for loving such unworthy parents.)
➢ We will each nurture our children’s love for the other parent.
➢ We will agree what information to share with the children regarding the divorce, understanding that they cannot and should not be “insulated” from it.
➢ We will encourage our children to express their feelings and will validate them, but we will make the major decisions.
➢ We will share with each other information about our children’s schoolwork, activities and schedules.
➢ We try to have similar, consistent rules for the children.
➢ We will reassure our children that they will continue to have two parents who will love and care for them, and that the failure of our marriage is not in any way their fault. (This is especially important when child-related issues are in dispute and children may feel that if not for them, their parents wouldn’t be fighting.)
➢ Because children suffer if matters concerning them linger unresolved, we will try to resolve child-related issues quickly and consistently with these shared values.