by Jill H. Breslau
Typical timesharing schedules, like 50/50, or 5-2-2-5, or 4-3, or weekdays and weekends do not take into account the needs of children are different at various ages and stages of development. Frequently, the approach to visitation is to consider the schedules and convenience of the parents first, figure out a logical access schedule, and then see if the children can adjust to it.
But a baby doesn’t need the same kind of access schedule that a 12 year old does. Their basic needs and developmental tasks are different. The baby’s “task” is to learn to bond, because all future emotional relationships depend on early bonding. The baby needs continuity and frequency of contact, because for a baby, when someone goes away for weeks at a time, it is as if they died.
A 12 year old on the other hand, needs time with parents that takes into account his or her need to develop peer relationships and extracurricular activities. And any children with issues like ADHD or special needs may have unique requirements that parents should consider when setting up schedules.
It is not easy to look at life through your child’s eyes. But a good parenting plan and child access schedule does just that. You are a parent for the long haul; your children grow and change, and so should your schedule. The way to begin to establish a schedule is by understanding the needs of each child.