At SingleDad, we provide our members with the best possible resources and referrals. Please read the latest article from David Pisarra, Esq., our SingleDad.com Toolbox Family Lawyer. In this feature, David discusses creating a parenting plan with your ex to max child custody easier for everyone.
When a man is first told he is going to be a father,
naturally the expectations of what the future will
look like pop into his head. He may think of fishing trips and baseball games, ballet recitals and happy holiday memories being
At first he and mom are getting along great, they both agree on what
needs to be done to properly raise a child. Mom is in charge a
lot at first because of the necessity to breastfeed, attend to the endless
needs of a newborn and her own maternal instincts.
This works at first, but it also sets a pattern for dad’s relationship with the child. The pattern is "Mom’s in charge" and dad does what mom says to provide for the growth and well-being of the newborn. That pattern
continues, and hopefully in healthy relationships the parties begin to equalize as the baby becomes a toddler and mom can back off
and dad can take on a stronger role.
But not always. Sometimes, the relationship stays imbalanced. Those are
the ones I think I see a lot of. Because it so often
shows up as part of a dysfunctional relationship that lands in family court.
The pattern creates detached fathers who have stepped back from an active role in their family, and that’s a shame. They should be contributing and directing the
growth and setting the boundaries for their children as much as Mom, if not more.
When the parties have to come up with a written agreement on how
to parent their child most parents don’t have too much conflict over this. Thanks to a common heritage, a shared recognition of the
responsibilities of each, or at least a common set of desires, the Parenting Plan can be fairly easily developed. Mom gets Mother’s Day,
dad gets Father’s Day, they alternate the big holidays, etc. Sometimes though, there is the Grand Battle Royale.
Where one parent doesn’t want to share the child. Usually it is mom,
who is too attached to her child, and she feels that dad
is a bad influence, lacks parenting skills, is too indulgent, or too strict, "he
never shows up on time, he never returns the
child on time, "and the most common complaint is that "he has a new girlfriend who is inappropriate." Most of those complaints are easily dealt with thanks to a
parenting class, and a bit of diligence on dad’s part.
This is where the Parenting Plan becomes the road map of
your relationship, not only with your child, but with your ex. The Parenting Plan will determine when you as a father have time with your child. If you have a cooperative ex, this can be a very flexible agreement, as simple as, "we’ll share the kids." Other
times you need to have an excruciatingly specific plan. This plan will
determine how much, how long and how often you have to
interact with your ex and your child. If she’s still angry and bitter, the
more specific the plan, the easier it will be to
have a court, or the police enforce it, and that means the fewer headaches dad will have.
Married dads don’t get to spend a lot of time with their
kids, divorced dads get even less. There are only a few years in which a
father has the opportunity to have any long lasting positive effect on his children. He should spend what few
hours he has really making a difference. That’s why I think that more fathers should step up to the plate and take a stronger role in their children’s lives. It should be mandatory that if you have kids, you automatically have the
kids 50 percent of the time. That will not be popular among many moms, for some
because they are still angry, and for others, because they don’t
want to see a reduction in their child support.
But the reality is that, as a society, we need to
have more men, acting like men, and teaching their children what it means to be a man, and that includes their daughters, so that they know what to expect of their future spouses.
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”