Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Custody Agreements for Preschoolers: Fostering Parental Bonds

For most adults, there is not enough time in a week. Time passes quickly. The older we get, the faster it seems to go. Monday morning arrives relentlessly, without apology, regardless of whether or not we have had time to catch our breath and recover from the previous week.

For a small child, a week seems endless. Any parent that has helped their child “count sleeps” (“Four more sleeps until Grandma comes!”) or count down the days until a special event occurs knows that a week is a very long time for a preschooler to wait for anything. A week lasts forever when you are four years old.

This difference in the perception of the passage of time is something you may wish to consider if you are considering divorce or in the process of creating a child custody agreement.

Many standard custody agreements allow the non-custodial parent to see their child every other weekend and one day during the middle of the week. Plenty of parents follow this generic schedule and it works for them.

You do not have a generic child and you should not feel obligated to agree to custody arrangements meant to serve as the bare minimum amount of time a child should be able to spend with the other parent. Your child is fabulous, beautiful and special. Your child custody agreement should be as unique as your child is.

The majority of courts will allow parents (who are able to reach an agreement) to either modify the suggested standard order or to create one of their own. Why not use this opportunity to customize your child’s visitation schedule to better serve her needs?

No child, especially a small child, should have to wait an entire week to see a parent. If it is feasible, you may want to consider giving your child extra time with the other parent during the week.

The additional time doesn’t have to be doled out in large chunks. Even a small amount of time will matter to the child. It is possible for a child of divorce to see both of her parents on a frequent, ongoing basis if the parents work toward achieving that goal.

Consider the amount of time your child spent with each of you prior to the divorce. Chances are, if the non-custodial parent worked a traditional schedule, there were only a few hours during the work week that he was available to spend time with the child. Many husbands (and working mothers) only have the hours after work until the child’s bedtime to spend with her.

Scheduling extra time for your child to spend with the non-custodial parent could be as simple as arranging for that parent to pick the child up from daycare each day or spending time together while you are at the gym. Even a half an hour car ride with a hug and a kiss from Daddy will make a difference in the child’s life.

A “first right of refusal” clause is included in many parenting plans. This is an agreement that states the parents will give the other parent the opportunity to take the child if either parent needs to seek third party care for her. This allows the child to spend more time with her parents and less time in daycare or with a babysitter.

Your child shouldn’t have to feel as if she lives with one parent and visits the other. As parents. We all want what is best for our children. Allowing your child to spend a little extra time during the week with the other parent will enable her to form stronger bonds with the other parent which in turn will strengthen her bond with you.

This guest post was submitted by Christal, an advocate of children's custody rights. She is an award-winning writer who also specializes in sales and marketing. Christal studied telecommunications at Grossmont College.

Image Citation (Top): o5com

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