Making the choice to divorce is not an easy one. It’s a trying time for everyone involved. The split doesn’t mean you cannot continue to instill Christian values in your children, however. You can even make sure that idea is in writing. Any couple with children that divorce will have to create a parenting plan that is approved by the family courts. While the parenting plan has required sections, such as having a realistic custody calendar that suits the best interests of each child, others are not. But, as one of the co-parents, you have the option to ask for certain provisions.
Here are 3 ways to help your child through your divorce, and provisions you can consider including to ensure your child is raised within your Christian values, even when not under your roof.
1. Include What Religion Your Children Will be Raised In
Many parents include a provision specifying the religion that their children will be raised in. You can make the provision as general or specific as you feel is needed. While some parents think they can skip this if they are both Christians, it’s still a good idea to include. It’s not completely uncommon for a parent’s views to change if they begin a new relationship, and including a provision like this helps safeguard against potential future arguments.
2. Specify Schooling
If your child is enrolled in a Christian school, you may want to consider including a parenting plan provision that dictates they must remain in that school. Depending on their age, you can also specify where they should attend as they get older and can no longer attend their current school. You can do the same for any extracurricular classes as well, such as Sunday school or Communion classes. Documenting a plan for any education you feel is important for your child’s proper upbringing is never a bad idea.
3. When In Doubt, Put it in Writing
Aside from general religious ideals and schooling, if there is anything you feel might be a problem in the future, like which holidays should be celebrated and where, include it on the parenting plan. It might not be something that you ever need to enforce, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and include it up front. Some provisions a parent may want to include could be about the changing of a child’s appearance, such as forbidding ear piercings. Or, you may want to include a provision about at what age your children can begin dating. If there’s anything you are firm and compassionate about, try to put it in writing.
Your parenting plan is extremely customizable. It should be crafted in a way that outlines exactly what’s best for your children.
When putting yours together, it’s always best to be proactive. It’s much better to have a provision in place that you never need to try to have enforced than to assume the status quo will continue post-divorce regarding your children’s upbringing.
In a perfect world, you and your co-parent should be able to work through any future problems if you both see eye-to-eye spiritually, but in the case that changes over time, a thoroughly thought out parenting plan is a must have.
This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Tim Backes, senior editor for Custody X Change, a custody calendar software program.