Tag Archives: child raising

Shared Family Plan: Eighteen to Thirty-Six Months (Toddler), Part II

It is important that each parent have the opportunity to become competent and comfortable in all aspects of the child’s daily routine. This includes bathing, feeding, napping, playing, reading, and arranging age-appropriate activities with other children.

 Parents with a child of this age should consider:

  •  The amount of childcare that each parent provided before separation as well as the child’s temperament.
  • If a parent was not regularly involved in caregiving, two to three daytime contacts weekly with the non-residential parent allows the parent-child bond to develop and strengthen as caregiving skills are mastered. The addition of an overnight visit may be planned after a short time if the child does not show signs of undue stress.
  • It is preferable to begin with overnights spaced throughout the week, particularly if dealing with an only child.
  • If both parents were involved in every aspect of childcare before the separation, the child should be able to be away from either parent for two or three days. Depending upon the child’s temperament, parenting may be shared on a reasonably equal basis.
  • Daily telephone contact at a regular hour may be reassuring to both the child and the absent parent.
  • Keeping a picture of the absent parent with the child in the child’s room.
  • Children at this age do not have an adult’s concept of time. Frequent contact helps the parent and child establish and maintain a mutually supportive relationship.

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Shared Family Plan: Birth to Nine Months, Part II

Visits several times weekly with non-residential parents are usually recommended for this age. These visits should provide ample opportunity for such care-giving functions as feeding, playing, bathing, soothing and putting the infant to sleep, whether for a nap or for the night. This will help non-residential parents maintain or build familiarity between themselves and the infant.

If a non-residential parent has not been involved in caregiving previously, short visits of several hours every few days will help to develop a mutually secure relationship, allowing the parent to master the tasks and sensitivity required to care for an infant. As the caregiving skills are mastered and the parent-child bond strengthens, the plan may include longer days.

Non-residential parents of children this age who have been active, involved caregivers may begin overnights, preferably in familiar surroundings. Overnights are more likely to be successful when parents have shared parental tasks prior to separation and communicate effectively about their baby.

To develop a healthy attachment to both parents, an infant should not be away from either parent for more than a few days. Many infants demonstrate a caregiver preference.

Extended separation from that primary caregiver should be avoided. Communication between the parents about the baby is essential for good infant adjustment. A daily communication log should be maintained and exchanged between the parents noting eating, sleeping, diapering and any new developments.


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Shared Parenting Strategies: Setting Up the Shared Family Schedule

When designing your parenting plan, you should be specific about such things as:

  •  Who will do the driving for pick-ups and drop-offs?
  • What time will holiday and vacation periods begin and end?
  • How much advance notice is required for choosing vacation times?
  • Who will be responsible for childcare when a child is sick and unable to go to school?
  • Who will schedule routine medical and dental appointments?
  • Who will be responsible for buying presents for the birthday parties to which your  child will be invited?
  • How will you share the responsibility for your child’s birthday celebrations?
  • If one parent is unavailable during that parent’s scheduled time, should the other parent be offered the opportunity to be with the child? Even if you are certain that you can      work these things out as they occur, having a plan to fall back on is the best way to guard against conflict in the future.

Parents should remember that each child must be seen as an individual. Children develop at varying speeds, depending upon many things such as individual temperament, place in the family, and outside events that affect their lives. Separation and divorce present a series of major stressors in a child’s life and can cause a child to regress temporarily. If this regression happens, it may be helpful to adjust your parenting plan.


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Shared Parenting Strategies: Questions to Consider Before Creating a Shared Family Schedule

Before designing your plan, answering the following questions may help you focus on your family’s circumstances.

  • What responsibilities have each of you assumed for childcare prior to separation? For example, who has taken the children to school; helped with homework; scheduled and/or taken children to medical appointments?
  • How has each of you been involved in each child’s recreational activities such as sports, music, dance, or after school clubs?
  • What are the most important issues for each of your children; what do you believe are their individual needs?
  • What do you see as each of your strengths as a parent?
  • How do you want to share parental responsibilities for your children?
  • How do your children get along with each other? Should you consider spending some separate time with each of them?
  • Have you thought about your children’s preferences?
  • What will you have to do to put your children’s needs ahead of your own?
  • Can you protect your children from your own conflicts, disappointments and adult concerns?
  • Have you discussed with each other how and when to tell the children the details of your parenting plan?

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Shared Parenting Strategies: Creating a Shared Family Schedule

Since no research supports a given number of hours or days that children should spend with each parent, the information provided discusses what arrangements seem to work for other co-parents. As parents, you are in the best position to determine what schedule will meet the needs of your child.

Before designing a plan for your family, you should consider your own unique situation. The Family Assessment set out below will help you develop a framework for your individualized plan.


Raising children is difficult for all parents. When parents live in separate homes the challenges are greater because relationships are more complicated. Sometimes one parent disagrees about how much time a child should spend with the other. Before planning a time-sharing arrangement for your family, it is helpful to consider:

  •  The age, temperament and social adjustment of each child.
  • Any special needs of each child (medical, developmental, educational, emotional or social).
  • The quality of relationships between siblings and any other extended family members.
  • Each child’s daily schedule.
  • Care giving responsibilities of each parent before the separation.
  • How you would like to share responsibilities both now and in the future.
  • Availability of each parent as a caregiver.
  • Potential flexibility of each parent’s work schedule.
  • Distance between each parent’s home, workplace, and children’s schools.
  • The ability of parents to communicate and cooperate with each other.
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to learn basic care giving skills such as feeding, changing and bathing a young child; preparing a child for daycare or school; taking responsibility for helping with homework; assessing and attending to each child’s special emotional and social needs.

Often, someone who has not been an active parent prior to separation may wish to become more involved afterward. The initial parenting plan should allow that parent enough time to develop a closer relationship with the child, while at the same time recognizing the existing relationship. As the parent-child bond strengthens, changes can be made to the schedule.

These considerations should remain a basic reference as children move from one developmental stage to another and as time-sharing arrangements are modified from time to time.


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