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Co-Parenting Goals: Find Success

It can be a bit difficult to start co-parenting. To help you and your ex going in the right direction, it can be a good idea to set some co-parenting goals. These goals can help ensure your efforts result in success…

Co-Parenting Goals

Help the kids feel secure

Divorce usually causes your kids to feel a lot of uncertainty about the future. While you yourself might have a lot of questions about what’s next, your kids also will feel the same. Mainly, they might be worried about where they’ll live, or if the divorce itself was somehow their fault.

Therefore, it helps to set making the kids feel secure as one of your co-parenting goals. Having a good, consistent schedule can help them adjust to this new “normal” and feel more relaxed. Spending plenty of time with them also helps reinforce to them that you or your ex aren’t going anywhere.

Create a budget

Divorce also brings changes to one’s budget. As a co-parent, you’ll not only need to plan a budget for yourself, but also one for your kids with your co-parent. Usually, this budget involves things like major expenses, such as tuition or medical bills. That’s why this shared budget is another of the co-parenting goals to work towards.

One useful way to do this is by first meeting with your ex and going over your individual budgets. Then, you can look at what major kid-related costs you might have. By doing so, you can work on adjusting your budgets to meet your kids’ needs.

Better communication

Not all ex-couples will want to talk all the time after divorcing. Still, co-parenting will require some kind of communication between the two of you. After all, you’ll have to coordinate things like dropping or picking up the kids. Due to this, improving communication is one of the most common co-parenting goals.

A good way to do this is by keeping your conversations positive. Focus on the good things, like if the kids got good grades on a test, over negative topics. It’s also good to help keep them in the loop about any changes to your schedule which could impact your usual co-parenting plans.

Parental Conflict: Spare The Kids

Emotions usually tend to run a bit high during a divorce. However, if you have kids, you won’t want to fight with their other parent in front of them. Rather, it’s important to spare them from as much parental conflict as possible. There’s a few ways you can shield them from those heated disagreements…

Parental Conflict: Protect Your Children

Don’t fight in front of them

For starters, it’s important you keep any parental conflict away from the kids. You don’t want to have a major argument with them there. Doing so will not only scare them, but it’ll leave a lasting impression. This will make it harder for them to adjust to the divorce and process it in a healthy way.

If you come to a disagreement, you should do your best to avoid escalating things into an argument. Keep your calm and don’t engage in any name calling or yelling. Still, if you’re worried about things potentially getting heated, you should ensure your conversations take place in private somewhere away from the kids.

Don’t vent to the kids

Even if you don’t argue in front of the kids, you can accidentally get them involved in parental conflict. In particular, this could happen if you vent to them about the divorce and their other parent. Some parents might think it’s okay to do so, especially if their kids are older and say they want to help.

The reality is venting to them will put them in an awkward position. Suddenly, they’ll feel like they need to take sides, which could cause their relationship with their other parent to suffer. Instead, you should only talk about the divorce and any issue you have with your support network.

Follow the co-parenting plan

You should also make sure that any parental conflict doesn’t get in the way of your co-parenting plan. After a fight with your soon-to-be-ex, you might want to “get back” at them. One way you may do this is either by not dropping off the kids when you’re supposed too, or otherwise not following the original plan.

What this does is basically put your kids in the middle of the divorce. Now, they’re going to feel like they did something wrong, and that’s why things have gone the way they have. Doing this will also negatively impact any co-parenting plans going forward, and could even hurt your divorce goals.

Different Types of Custody Arrangements

There are several types of custody arrangements possible when parents divorce. We often think of custody as either 50/50 or one parent getting full custody. However, there are actually more options than just those two. Joint custody means that both parents have equal rights to make decisions for their children. Kids usually split their time between their parents’ houses. Sole custody means that one parent is the main caregiver. Non-parental custody is uncommon but happens if the court believes a third party is more able to care for the children than the parents. And finally, the least common is split custody. In this, siblings are split up between their parents. There are many options for custody and each case depends on the parents and children involved.

Different Types of Custody Arrangements: Common and Uncommon

Joint Custody

Joint custody is one of the most common custody arrangements. It can look different for different families. However, it means that both parents equally are responsible for their kids. Often this means that children split their time between parents and switch back and forth between their houses. The parents must make any legal decisions about the children together.

Full/Sole Custody

Full or sole custody is another custody arrangement that is somewhat common. With sole custody, one of the parents is legally responsible for making decisions for the kids. In addition, the children live with them full time. Often the other parent has visitation rights. This is more likely to happen if one parent is unfit or not capable of child-rearing.

Non-Parental Custody

One of the custody arrangements that are less common is non-parental custody or third-party custody. This happens when both parents are unfit or not able to legally care for their children. It often means that kids live with their grandparents, step-parents, or other family members.

Split Custody

Finally, split custody is a rare custody arrangement to be awarded. Many people mistakenly use the term when they actually mean shared or joint custody. But it actually means something very different. In split custody, siblings each live with a separate parent. The court doesn’t usually decide on split custody, because most people believe that siblings should stay together. However, in rare cases, this type of custody might happen. It is more common if the children go to different schools, and have a large age gap, special needs, or disciplinary issues.

While there are many different types of custody arrangements, the most common one in our country is joint custody. Most courts feel that it’s important for children to have both of their parents in their lives making decisions for them together. However, in some situations, one parent might have sole custody. It’s less common, but sometimes children go to live with non-parental guardians in a third-party arrangement. And finally, the least common is split custody, where siblings are split up between parents. Divorce is difficult for everybody, including kids. It’s important that the arrangement be whatever is best for the well-being of the children. If you are going through a divorce, hopefully, you will find the arrangements that work the best for you and your family.

An Overview of the Foster Program

The foster program works differently in different states, however, many follow similar paths. There are many reasons why biological parents become unable to take care of children, both temporarily or permanently. When this happens, foster parents step in and care for the children until the parents can. In some situations, foster parents can adopt the children if the biological parents are permanently unable to provide a home. The fostering process typically starts with prospective parents choosing an agency. Then they will complete training and education courses. They will need to do a background check and also a home study to make sure they have a safe environment for any children. And if they are adopting, they will need to take further steps. There is more of a need than ever and fostering is a great way to change your life and the life of a child.

An Overview of the Foster Program: Fostering at a Glance

Choosing an Agency

The first step in the foster program is to choose an agency that you would like to work with. There are county and state-run programs as well as private agencies that can assist you. Find out as much as you can about the agency, and ask questions upfront about the process. If you can, speak with other parents who have also used them to find out their experience.

Education

The next step in the journey in the foster program is to educate yourself. There are many training programs and certifications to become a foster parent. You’ll likely need to attend classes, watch videos, and participate in practice exercises. Foster parents can run into a lot of hard-to-navigate situations because of the past experiences of foster children.

Home Study

Another important step when trying to enter the foster program is the home study. This is when a representative of the agency comes to your house to make sure that you can provide a safe environment for a child. They aren’t looking for reasons to ding you out of the program. Rather, they just want to make sure you’re a good fit and know what to expect. You will also need to pass a background check.

Fostering to Adopt

Finally, the foster program is about placing children with families while they wait to be reconnected to their biological parents. However, in some cases, these parents are never able to provide a home. In that situation, foster parents sometimes become adoptive parents and legally adopt their foster children. If this is something you are interested in, you’ll need to hire a family attorney who can guide you through the adoption process.

The foster program in America desperately needs more families. Fostering is an amazing way to help out children who are in need and to change both of your lives. There are many steps to becoming a foster parent, but you will likely need to start by choosing an agency. They will guide you through the certifications and training classes that you need to take. Next, you’ll need to pass a home study and also background checks. And finally, if you do choose to foster, you could have the opportunity to legally adopt as well. Consider if this is something you are interested in before you start the program. However, keep in mind that this is not necessarily the goal of fostering. However long your experience is with the foster program it will surely enrich your life forever.

Easing the Custody Transition for Children

Easing the custody transition for children is important because divorce can be quite stressful for them. They might be going back and forth between houses now, or might just be living without one parent. Either way, it’s likely a big change from what they’re used to. It can cause a lot of anxiety in children, so it’s important to make it as easy as you can for them. Prepare them in advance by talking with them about what will happen, and keep the lines of communication open. Keep their schedule as consistent as possible. Communicate with your ex about their needs and make sure that you both are on the same page when it comes to the kids. And finally, reassure your children constantly about how much you love them and how this will feel normal soon. Hopefully, you can make this time in their lives a little less stressful.

Easing the Custody Transition for Children: Smoothing a Stressful Situation

Talk with Them

It’s important to lay the groundwork ahead of time when preparing for the custody transition for children. Let them know what their schedule is going to look like moving forward. In addition, give them a chance to ask questions and raise concerns. If they are older children, or you feel that they might open up more to another person, consider getting them an appointment with a counselor or therapist. Keep the dialog going after you’ve started the transition. Check-in with them to see how they are handling things frequently.

Consistency is Key

Children thrive on consistency and schedules. Especially young children. When easing the custody transition for children, make sure to keep their schedules as similar as possible to what they’re used to. For example, make sure you and your ex are keeping bedtimes, nap times, and mealtime consistent between your houses. Try to keep them in the extra-curricular activities that they’re used to.

Communicate with Your Ex

Another important thing to remember when easing the custody transition for children is to communicate with your ex. It’s important to make sure that you are both on the same page when it comes to things like schedules and discipline. Try to remember that you need to make your children a priority. You and your ex might have some bitter feelings towards one another, but trash-talking can be harmful to children. Try to keep things civil for the sake of your co-parenting relationship.

Reassure Them

Finally, one of the most important things to do when easing the custody transition for children is reassuring them frequently. Children often feel blamed when their parents are going through a divorce. It’s important to remind them over and over that the divorce doesn’t have anything to do with them and that you both love them. Try to also reinforce the idea that this is a time of transition and pretty soon their new schedules will seem normal to them.

Easing the custody transition for children is easy if you just remember that children like consistency and like to know what to expect. Don’t try to surprise them with a new schedule. It’s a much better plan to tell them in advance and give them plenty of opportunities to voice their concerns or questions. Check-in with them frequently throughout the process. Be consistent with their schedules and make sure you and your ex can put things aside to communicate effectively about coordinating schedules. And finally, reassure your children frequently and repeatedly that you love them and that the divorce is not their fault. Let them know that pretty soon, everything will feel very normal to them. Hopefully, you can make this time in their lives a little less stressful.

Vacations with Split Custody

Vacations with split custody can be an awkward situation to manage. You and your ex both share custody of the children, and you each probably want to take them on vacations. However, it’s easy to feel more nervous when your children are traveling without you. Therefore, it’s best to work together with your ex so that you can each make vacationing smoother. Give plenty of warning about your travel plans: don’t just bring them up last minute. Discuss the details of your trip with your ex so that they feel more comfortable. Keep in touch while you are traveling to ease nerves. And finally, remember to set aside your bitterness with one another to prioritize your children. Hopefully, by doing these things, you and your ex will each be able to enjoy fulfilling vacations with your children and make amazing memories.

Vacations with Split Custody: How to Make Things Smoother

Give Plenty of Warning

Vacations with split custody are easier to handle when you have plenty of time to prepare for them mentally. Therefore, you and your ex should discuss any future travel plans well in advance. Even if your vacation doesn’t impact their schedule, you should still keep them informed. After all, you’d want to know if they were taking your kids out of town.

Discuss Details with Your Ex

When going on vacations with split custody, it’s helpful to discuss the details with your ex. Parents often worry when they feel out of control of their children. Therefore, giving them a detailed schedule of your plans while traveling can help put minds at ease. In addition, if you’re taking the kids to do something like a beach vacation, make sure you both discuss water safety and expectations beforehand.

Keep in Touch While Traveling

Keep in touch while traveling to make vacations with split custody more smooth. Let your children call and check in with their parents as much as they want during the time they’re away. This will put everybody’s minds at ease. If you have questions concerning how to handle things like pool safety or curfews, make sure that you double-check and get on the same page together.

Put the Kids First

Finally, prioritizing your kids first is the most important thing for making vacations with split custody more enjoyable. They are the ones who you should be focusing on. You and your ex might have a lot of built-up resentment towards one another. There could be a lot of pain and bitterness. However, denying your children opportunities for vacations won’t change your past. Try to set aside your feelings and do what is best for your kids, even if it means swallowing your pride.

Vacations with split custody can often become an unexpected battlefield in the post-divorce world. You might not realize how anxiety-inducing it can be to know your children are traveling without you there. However, you will quickly get used to the idea and be more comfortable with it. It can help to discuss it with your ex in a productive way. Give them plenty of notice about vacations so that you can both prepare. Discuss the details and itinerary of your vacation together and make sure you’re on the same page with safety precautions. Check-in with your ex or your children while they travel to put your mind at ease. And finally, try to remember that your kids and their fun is the priority over any feelings of bitterness. Hopefully, by focusing on them instead of your divorce, you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation to the fullest extent.

Ways You Can Support a Foster Family

If you are not quite ready to become a foster parent but are wondering how to support a foster family, there are plenty of meaningful ways to be helpful. You can help gather supplies before a new placement arrives. You can also provide food or organize meals. Being a good listener for the parents can be very helpful as well. And finally, you can be there to help welcome a new foster child into the family. Fostering is an amazing way to help the community and provide a meaningful relationship for a family and a child. However, it can be stressful. Foster families can use all the support you can give!

Ways You Can Support a Foster Family: Be Helpful

Help with Supplies

One way to support a foster family is to help gather supplies before a new placement arrives. Sometimes, a foster family doesn’t know that a new child will be living with them until the day before they arrive. They may not have all of the supplies that they need to take care of the child. For example, they may not have diapers, crib, correct size car seats, etc. You can help purchase supplies for them. You can also reach out to your community to see if anybody is willing to donate items.

Organize a Meal Train

Another way to support a foster family is to organize some food for them. Welcoming a new foster child can be a very busy time when it’s easy for parents to get overwhelmed. Cooking a full meal might be the last thing on their mind. If you enjoy cooking or can purchase some meals, drop them by the house. You can also prepare easy frozen meals for them to heat up. If there are other people you know who are wanting to help, organize a meal train where different people can sign up to bring food on different days.

Be a Good Listener

Being a good listener is a very helpful way to support a foster family. Bringing a new foster child into your home is a really exciting time. But it can also be very stressful and filled with difficult emotions. The parents sometimes can feel overwhelmed and just need a supportive friend to talk to. They may be feeling scared, stressed, frustrated, or completely frazzled. Be a sympathetic listener and ask them how they would like you to support them.

Help Welcome a New Placement

Finally, another way to support a foster family is to help them adjust. Invite them all over for a fun game night or group activity. Or you could purchase a new game or something that the family can all do together the first night. Foster children often have many appointments, so it can also be helpful to offer to drive them or to stay with the rest of the family while the foster parents take them. You can also investigate the requirements to be able to provide respite care or babysitting.

Becoming a foster parent can be a very stressful process. If you’ve been on the fence about becoming a foster parent, you can begin by helping to support a foster family. You can help a family collect supplies for their new placement, or organize a meal train and food. It’s great to be a supportive listener if you have a friend becoming a foster parent. It can often be an emotional journey. And finally, you can be supportive by inviting the family to hang out or give them a new activity to do together. You can even get qualified to provide respite care which is a huge help for families. Fostering is such an amazing act of love and supporting foster families is a terrific use of your time and energy.

Adoption and Foster Care: How are They Different?

Adoption and foster care vary in many different ways. While they are similar in that each is a way for a family to welcome a child as one of their own and help a child in need, they are not the same. They differ in the permanence and time commitments of each. Foster care is a temporary situation, while adoption is permanent. In addition, the goals of foster care and adoption are different. Legally, the outcomes of each also are quite different. And finally, the training involved and preparation for each is slightly different. If you are considering adoption or fostering, you are potentially making a huge difference in the life of a child in need and your own life.

Adoption and Foster Care: How are They Different From Each Other?

Permanence

The main difference between adoption and foster care is the levels of permanence. Foster care is meant to be a temporary situation where you take care of a child in need for a short time. In contrast, adopting a child makes that child legally your own. You will raise them for the rest of their life. In fostering, you might end up deciding to adopt your foster child, however, it is not always the case.

Goal

The reason why there is a difference between adoption and foster care in terms of permanence is that the goals of each are different. The goal of adoption is to find a child that you will legally make a part of your family forever. They will be your child in every sense of the word permanently. However, the goal of foster care is to take care of a child in need until they can be reunited with their birth parents. While some foster parents adopt their children, the actual goal is to take care of them until their parents are well enough to have them come back to live in their home.

Legal Rights

Another difference between adoption and foster care is the legal rights of the parents. In a foster care situation, the child’s legal guardian usually retains all parental rights. This is typically the case, but not always. In contrast, an adoptive parent becomes a child’s legal parent.

Training

Finally, the preparation involved is another difference between the two. With each, you’ll need to do a home study and prepare your house to bring home a child. You’ll likely be assigned a caseworker to work within either situation who will help prepare you for the journey ahead. There might be more training involved with foster care than adoption. This is because children in foster care sometimes have emotional and physical needs due to past trauma. It can also be incredibly expensive to adopt, especially if you opt for a private adoption agency.

There are several differences between these two avenues of building a family. Deciding which ones will work for you should take time and careful consideration. Foster care is meant to be a temporary situation while adoption is permanent. This is because the goal of foster care is to reunite the child with their parent while the goal of adoption is to become the legal parent of a child. The training and cost involved with each can also vary. If you’re considering either one, consult with parents you know who have been through each process. They can give you plenty of insight and advice and will be a source of support when you do make your decision. Whichever you decide to do, you’ll be making a huge difference in the life of a child and opening up your heart to expanding your family.

Preparing for Summer with Joint Custody

If you are preparing for summer with joint custody of your kids, you might need to re-examine your schedule. The school year and summer present different obstacles for splitting custody. If you work full time, arranging childcare can be difficult. In addition, if you or your ex have vacations planned, you may need to be flexible with your schedules. If you’re planning on sending them to summer camp, you’ll need to both be on the same page. Similarly, if you’re planning to hire a babysitter or nanny for the summer you’ll want to make sure that you both are comfortable. Finally, although summer doesn’t have a ton of holidays to work around, you should have a plan for the 4th of July and others. Hopefully, if you both are open-minded, you can come up with a summer schedule that works for everybody!

Preparing for Summer with Joint Custody of Your Kids

Planning Vacations

Summertime is when most families take vacations since the children are out of school. If you’re preparing for summer with joint custody, you’ll need to take into account your custody arrangement before planning vacations. If your schedule doesn’t give you enough time for a full vacation, talk to your ex about switching around days. They may also have a vacation they’d like to take and want to have you return the favor later for them. Staying flexible and understanding is the key to working out a plan that works for everybody.

Planning Camps

Summer with joint custody can be difficult for parents who both work full time. Without school in session, it’s hard to entertain children all day at home. Luckily, there are many summer camps available to help break up the time. You and your ex need to be on the same page with what camps you’d like to send your children to. Financially, you need to establish boundaries as well. Hopefully, you can come to an agreement in regards to who is paying for summer camp, which camp the kids are going to, and what the pickup/drop-off schedule will look like.

Summer Help

If you’re facing summer with joint custody, you may be looking into hiring help. A nanny or babysitter can be a huge benefit to working parents when the kids are home from school. Kids respond well to consistency, so talk to your ex about hiring the same nanny. You could even coordinate it so that the nanny is able to drive the kids to and from your respective houses on days when you switch custody. Just make sure that you are on the same page with who is paying for which days so that you don’t leave your summer help in the lurch. Also, make sure that both parties are comfortable with whoever you hire.

Holidays

Finally, you need to consider holidays when planning for summer with joint custody. While summer doesn’t have too many holidays to deal with, you’ll need to figure out the plan for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Some partners choose to switch off years for special holidays, but you can handle them however you’d like. Also, remember that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day take place in May and June. Try to be understanding if your ex wants the kids for their respective day because you’ll probably want them for your holiday too. It’s also a kind gesture to help the kids make something special for the holiday.

Summer with joint custody doesn’t have to be a huge headache if you just prepare in advance and try to be understanding. Being flexible with your partner often results in them being flexible when you want to change things. Especially if you’re wanting to re-arrange days based on vacations. Also, plan for summer camp or a summer nanny if you’re both working full time. Finally, don’t forget to make a plan for the summer holidays like the Fourth of July. Hopefully, with a little planning ahead and some understanding, you can have a great summer!

How-to: Take On Being a Single Dad

Being a single parent can be tough. Everyone always focuses on single moms, but what about single dads? Whether you are a single dad due to divorce, a failed relationship, or the death of a spouse, this role will be tough, but rewarding. It will take some time to get into the swing of things, and there will be both good and bad times that come with it. However, no matter what your background or experience is, here are some tips on how to take on being a single dad.

How-to: Take On Being a Single Dad- Parenting Journey

Routines

One of the most difficult parts of adjusting to not having another parent at home with you is getting routines in place. This is something you be faced with on day 1 of being a single dad. There will likely be more to do and not as much help. You will have to juggle grocery shopping, meal planning, and prep. There will be cleaning and chores, plus keeping track of school, homework, and functions. Understand that you are human, and just one person, and that there is only so much you can do. Try your best, and know that you are doing the best you can. If you mess up, it is okay. Just brush it off and learn from it.

Raising a Daughter

It may feel daunting to raise a daughter while being a single dad. There will be so many things you feel you will not be able to relate to or handle without having a mother-figure present too. Just take it now step at a time, and focus on her basic needs. While girls are different, they need many of the same basic things that boys do. For example, food, shelter, clothes, and love. For the other things, try and find one or several strong, female role model figures to be present in your daughter’s life.

Dealing with Loss

When you become a single dad, it will be due to some sort of loss. This could be a loss of a relationship, the end of a marriage, or even the death of a spouse. Whatever this may be, you will go through a period of grieving. At the same time, your children will also have experienced the loss of their two parents being together or even a parent passing away. You will have to work through your own grief at the same time as helping your kids through the process.