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Should your child be involved in developing the parenting plan?

You and your spouse have agreed that divorcing is the best thing for everyone in the family. Even your children seem relieved when the two of you sit down to talk to them about it. Naturally, they want to know which of you they will spend more time with, and if they will have to move, and they may have some very definite ideas about how things should go. Should you accept their input when you draw up a parenting plan schedule?

According to Psychology Today, it is common for children to want their parents to listen to what they want in the divorce. However, that does not mean they want to make the decisions. This much responsibility could be too much for your children, particularly if they are younger. It may relieve some of that tension if you let them know that you value their input, but that there are many other factors that also have to be weighed before the decision is final.

Some professionals believe that allowing your children to choose their own living arrangements may harm the parent-child relationships. Your children could feel that you and your spouse see their preferences as taking sides, and the results could be divisive. However, if your divorce is amicable, or if you have at least managed to shelter your children from the disputes you and your spouse have gone through, they may not see their input as sparking any emotional conflict.

If you and the other parent do determine that your children can and should be part of the discussion, it may be a good idea to have them discuss their ideas with a therapist, mediator or other neutral party to sidestep any possible friction or pressure. Your situation and your children are unique, though, so while this general information could give you some points to consider, it should not replace the advice of a legal or mental health professional.

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