Use all of your parenting time. Do not pick the children up late or return them early.
Read all you can on the subject of children, children’s development, parents, and how to be a good parent. If a class or study course in this general area becomes available in your area, attend it. Examples of good books on these general subjects are:
P.E.T. Parent Effectiveness Training, by Dr. Thomas Gordon
The Custody Handbook, by Persia Woolley
The Disposable Parent, by Mel Roman
Boys’ and Girls’ Book About Divorce, by Richard Ganlan, M.D.
Surviving the Breakup, by Judith S. Wallerstein and Joan Berlin Kelly
Mom’s House, Dad’s House, by Isolina Ricci
Long Distance Parenting.
Involve yourself in your children’s activities.
Devote some of your spare time to civic endeavors. Work with youth groups (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brother, Little League, sports, and other children’s groups). Make your contribution to these or any other worthwhile organizations and groups. Actively participate and get to know children and how they play, develop, and grow. Become a student of children and learn from them.
Work up a plan as to how you will provide care, love, and guidance to and meet the needs of your child (children). Examples: Where the child would live; his/her daily routine; who would care for the child when not in school and when you were not physically present, educational and religious training plans, plans for parenting time with the other spouse (be liberal in your thinking and planning). Develop a workable, reasonable, logical daily routine for the care of your child and, if possible, point out how your plan, your care, your attention to the needs of the child is better than that now in existence and how it will be BETTER—MORE BENEFICIAL—in the future for the child. Research and evaluate the schools your child would attend if living with you. Know and familiarize yourself with transportation, etc., and have a general knowledge of this important area of your child’s development.
Make sure the physical facilities of your home are child-oriented—adequate room, privacy and safety, neutral, objective vantage point.
Develop common interests with the children. Become a part of their world and share and enjoy their world with them. Do not forget to attend their school activities. Do not overlook their birthday or holidays, and other special occasions that mean so much to a child. Show interest in their schoolwork, outside school activities, their sports, their clubs, organizations, their friends, and their plans for the future.
Get to know your child’s medical needs, school, and health records. Interact with your child’s teachers and friends.
The Nine Commandments for Parents During and After Divorce
Put your children’s welfare ahead of your conflict with your former spouse. Avoid involving your children in any conflict with your former spouse.
Remember that children need two parents. Help your children maintain a positive relationship with their other parent; give them permission to love the other parent.
Show respect for the other parent as a parent. Do not make derogatory remarks about the other parent to or in front of the children.
Honor your parenting time schedule. Always notify the other parent if you will be late or cannot exercise your time with the children. Children may see missed visits, especially without notification, as rejection.
If you are the alternate residential parent, do not fill every minute of your custodial time with the children with special activities. They need “at home” time with you.
Do not use the children as “message carriers” or spies to glean information about the other parent or to send information to the other parent. Don’t cross-examine the children when they return from the other parent’s home. Don’t use the children to collect child support.
Strive for agreement on major decisions about your child’s welfare and discipline, so one parent is not undermining the other.
Use common sense in exercising your parenting time and decision-making authority. Follow this old adage: Do not make a mountain out of a molehill. Follow the golden rule: Do unto them as you would have them do unto you.
Do not discuss the case with your children. This is not the children’s divorce. They should not be reading the pleadings or letters from opposing counsel.