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Don’t be afraid of shared parenting

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A shared custody and parenting plan may sound like a nightmare when you first hear about it — after all, you’re divorcing your spouse. The last thing you probably want to think about is having to continue sharing the decision-making about your children with your spouse for the next seventeen or eighteen years.

However, shared parenting is becoming the norm. That means that it’s time to look on the bright side of divorce and see the benefits that shared parenting can bring:

1. You don’t have to always be the bad guy

You’ve heard of “Disney Dads” and “Disney Moms” who only show up for their bi-weekly visits, have a great time taking the kids to the zoo, the park or on vacation — and then stick the primary parent with all the heavy responsibilities like setting a curfew and leveling penalties for missed schoolwork and bad behavior.

Shared parenting means that both parents have to set boundaries and enforce them. No one gets to shirk the unpleasant side of parenting.

2. You have more time for personal growth

When you’re the only parent with custody, you have little time for any sort of personal development. That means your relationships — both friendships and romantic ones — can’t be nurtured. Your career also probably has to take a backseat to parenting, which can leave your mind unfulfilled.

Shared parenting gives each parent a break from the responsibilities of being a full-time parent. In some ways, it’s like having your spouse there as backup — only you don’t have to share a house together.

3. It’s easier to split the small expenses

Raising children is expensive. There are always a lot of small expenses that kids have — and child support doesn’t really account for the cost of snacks for the homeroom and four pairs of new jeans because a growth spurt hit seemingly overnight.

If each parent covers the incidentals needed for the child during his or her time, the only thing you have to negotiate are large unexpected expenses.

Shared parenting may not be the child custody agreement that you originally wanted, but it does have its benefits. If you start to focus on those, it may help you accept the idea more easily — and save you a lot of anxiety and stress trying to fight against it.

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