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The Healthy Parenting Plan - Where to Begin?
Part I - A Conceptual Overview
As with any complicated subject, it helps to start by understanding the vocabulary.
Risking the obvious, it is emotionally refreshing to revel in the conclusion that divorce is not about children. Divorced parents are still legally related to their children; and mothers and fathers still raise and nurture their children. It is a relief to understand that from a child's point of view, life does not have to fundamentally change when their parents live separately.
How is that possible in practice?
The emotional baggage and logistics that often confound parents at the outset are of little or no concern to children. Children have always implicitly relied on their parents to meet their needs, and will continue operating on that assumption. When parents realize that children have tunnel vision and are inherently self-centered - i.e. concerned about getting what they need - their job is instantly simplified. Focus on the familiar.
Children and Divorce: Big generalities do the trick
With this mindset, you focus and act on what remains the same. Preserve routine (from the children's perspective) even as you make new arrangements to maintain it. These incremental changes will evolve into a plan; it's an organic process guided by the best interests of the children.
Part II - Creating Parenting Plans: The Nuts and Bolts
As Part I describes, you now recognize that your child/ren's lives are less disrupted than you initially feared. You are meeting their practical needs; you are supporting their emotional needs; and you are relegating the issues of divorce to the two grown ups who are no longer married.
You are ready to document your successes and create your parenting plan. What do you need to get started?
What to Remember..
The configuration of your family will change. Your living space may change. That you are your child/ren's parents doesn't change. Be who they need you to be and they will thrive no matter where they live or with whom they spend their birthday with this year.
Pennsylvania recognizes common law marriages (if united before January 1, 2005).
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