OnePlusOne is a charity that describes itself as working to strengthen couple and family relationships, including by providing online services to assist couples either in their relationships or as a result of relationship breakdown.
A new initiative this week is the launch of its online Parenting Plan. There is of course nothing new in the concept of parenting plans which are written agreements setting out how to care for a child. The amazing thing about children is, of course, they are never born with instruction manuals. Somehow or other as parents we muddle along, learning as we go will some well-intentioned but not always well-received advice from our own parents. Unfortunately when a relationship falters, that muddling along together can halt too.
I frequently see clients who tell me they want to agree arrangements concerning their children but the truth is that on separation there can be any number of impediments that make this very difficult. More so, because without that instruction manual to refer to, parents aren’t always clear about the issues they will need to confront not only in the immediate aftermath of separation but as their children age and develop.
Most recognise that they need to agree the times that each parent will spend with the children; how much maintenance needs to be paid and which schools they are going to go to. Often, however, it is the little details where differences arise: “Daddy lets us have sugar on our breakfast cereal”; “Mummy lets us stay up late to watch that programme on TV” and that’s before clients have even begun to imagine what might happen when children reach their mid- teens and want to assert their independence.
Consistency and consensus isn’t just good for the children. It also makes life significantly easier for the parents. Parenting plans ask you to consider the issues which will arise and agree how they are to be handled by both parents.
OnePlusOne offers an online tool to create your own bespoke parenting plan, as detailed or simple as you require and certainly a lot less hassle than sitting down with pen and pencil. Moreover and for those parents who can no longer sit down at a computer together or communicate directly, it’s not necessary as the service will e-mail the other parent to invite them to look at their co-parent’s version of the plan and to submit their own version in anticipation that a final plan can be agreed. Okay it might not work but it’s got to be worth a go.