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Avoiding unpleasant surprises with your parenting plan

There is no way to prepare for every obstacle and problem when it comes to raising kids. Parents know that every day is an opportunity for unexpected changes and challenges. Because of this, parents typically need to be flexible, patient and understanding.

This is obviously easier said than done, especially when it comes to co-parenting. One way to try and minimize unforeseen circumstances is to plan for them as best you can in your parenting plan. In order to do this, it can be a good idea to focus on using your specific parenting styles as a way to anticipate potential conflicts.

You and the other parent of your child will have one of three relationships in terms of co-parenting: collaborative, parallel or conflicting.

  • Collaborative parenting means that you plan to work together are parents and will be in close communication with each other, which can already minimize the potential for co-parenting surprises. However, you can further protect yourselves by detailing your shared goals and commitments in your parent plan.
  • Parallel parenting means you plan to parent separately, but not necessarily differently. In these situations, you can use your parenting plan to establish the end goals without dwelling on how you will get there. For instance, use the plan to set expectations for religion, health and education so that you are both on the same page in those aspects.
  • Conflicting parenting styles can be the most combative. Not only are your parenting styles different, but you and/or your ex may be unwilling to work together. In these cases, your parenting plan should set guidelines and rules for how you will resolve disputes so that there is a clear course of action when inevitable trouble arises.

As you can see, your parenting style can significantly affect the types of unexpected situations that come up as well as the way you deal with them as a parent.

Raising a child separately but at the same time as another parent can be extraordinarily challenging, and parents often find themselves dealing with more surprises than they'd like. However, developing a parenting plan that addresses and attempts to anticipate surprises and disagreements can go a long way in helping you be a better co-parent.

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