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Good parenting after divorce: When kids have other plans

After your divorce, you have a set custody schedule that you and your ex-spouse are supposed to adhere to. There is one thing that can throw a kink in that agreement, and that is your child. If your child is sick, makes plans with friends or has school activities, they may affect the custody schedule.

Parents who are firm on their schedule may be unhappy if they have to give up a day or two of their time because their child has other plans, and parents who aren't firm enough may find that they're seeing their child less and less because of their activities, illnesses or plans.

What can you do to keep your custody schedule in place while being lenient for the sake of your child?

When it comes to your custody plan, leniency is important. Children grow and change, and your schedule needs to adjust for that. If you find that you're seeing too little of your child because of conflicts with their school schedule or activities, it may be time to revisit the custody schedule with your ex-spouse and to work on an arrangement that gives you a fair amount of parenting time.

It is important to be flexible with your custody schedule, especially if it's for your child's benefit. For example, if your child wants to start going to dance classes that are very close to the other parent's home, it does make sense to allow them to stay the night there when the classes end late in the evening, so long as the other parent is happy to take them to school the following day or to drop them back off to your home in the morning. However, if this is going to be something that impacts your time with your child significantly, you may want to see if you can switch custody days with the other parent to account for that lost time.

As kids age, they do need more independence, and parents are likely to see them less. This is especially true of children who have reached their teen years. As parents, you should do your best to be available on your custody days and to have your home open to your children. Be prepared to take them to events and to bring them home afterward. If it's your scheduled day for custody, you can enforce it, but you should try to do what's best for your child on that particular day.

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