Decisions & Negotiations for Parents During Divorce
To negotiate about a project or task and to make a decision about the things families normally discuss such as vacations, money, activities, church, moving etc. are some of the same things you will be doing after divorce. You will be making some of these decisions as a single parent, some based on situations in another marriage, and some with your children’s other parent.
It is quite different when you are making decisions about children. Children are not tasks, they are people. People with feelings, perspectives, needs and wants. There are many decisions to make about their lives. In order to negotiate these issues, the first step is to identify what they are. Identifying the alternatives is the next step. The third is negotiating and putting your plan into action.
Sometimes you have to give up what you need or want in divorce. You lose some control because both parents have rights. (Except for parents who make decisions that are not safe for children. In these cases the courts need to take control.) Ideally you can learn to decide what is reasonable and fair for everyone involved. Experiencing a divorce relationship is similar to honoring an ongoing contract in which you identify the changes along the way and respond accordingly. The alternative is a bitter divorce with constant arguments.
Understanding that each of you has different parenting styles is another of the realities of divorce. Hopefully your values are similar in how you think children should be raised and guided. Similar value systems make it possible to negotiate. If you are not sure what you value in raising children, it may help you to think about what you value in the following areas: education, religion, discipline, manners, guidance, boundaries, activities, music, art, culture, sport, money, world issues, politics, and social skills. These are the areas in which you will be making decisions and giving one another input if you are in a co-parenting relationship.
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CHANGE IN STANDARD OF LIVING – Divorced parenting means dealing with a reduced standard of living. This is a common and often unavoidable risk in divorced families because maintaining economic stability is clearly a protective factor for children.
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