You’re the parent, so you make the rules for the household, right? As much as that’s true, there are times it’s important to let your kids have a say about things that affect them the most directly — and that just might include when you’re making decisions about custody during (or after) your divorce.
Here’s why it matters what your kids think about the situation:
- Your children’s needs will change over their lifetime. A parenting plan or visitation schedule that worked just fine when they were toddlers may become incredibly stressful for a school-age child. A parenting plan that school-age children find stressful could be outright intolerable to teenagers who are developing their own interests and identities.
- Psychologists say that not asking your children about their preferences essentially renders them “voiceless and powerless.” Teenagers, in particular, often have private lives that are not necessarily obvious to their parents — and a schedule that doesn’t take that into account can be seen as a huge burden.
- Letting your children state their preferences and their reasoning can help both you and your ex-spouse focus more on what your children need (instead of what you may want). The needs of your children should always come first in any custody decision.
- Any parenting plan is likely to work more smoothly if the children are on-board with it. You can avoid a lot of family conflicts that way.
Divorce and custody issues have the potential to affect your children in numerous ways. It’s wise to keep their perspectives in mind — even if you don’t ultimately cede to their wishes. At least they’ll know that their feelings were considered, and their voices heard.