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Facing Custody Issues During a Child’s “Tender Years”

With gender neutrality becoming the norm, mothers and fathers are generally accepted to be equally fit to parent. With this acceptance also comes the idea that joint physical custody should occur earlier in a child’s life if the parents are no longer living together as a couple. However, there has been a slight exception to this view, and that’s when a child is in his or her “tender years.” The tender years are defined as 3 years of age or younger.

The traditional inclination during custody matters has been to treat infants and younger children differently than their older siblings. This argument is bolstered by the idea that babies who are nursing should spend more hours with their mother and fewer overnights with their fathers, as to avoid disrupting a child’s schedule.

It is possible to co-parent during this impressionable and important stage of a child’s life, especially for parents who wish to take a more amicable approach to resolving their custody issues. Co-parents either start the process peacefully, or come to this realization after a painful and expensive experience with litigation.

Co-parents are forever bound together, for a very good reason: The child that they created. Outlined below are helpful tips for creating a better attitude and mindset for co-parenting with children in their diaper years.

Conscious Uncoupling

If you have an unsavory view of your former partner, it is best to focus your thoughts on your child’s development and happiness. Being communicative and learning to trust will be your best ally during this transitional period. Separating personal issues and focusing on your child’s best interest will contribute to a stronger co-parenting relationship.

Ending the Divorce – Emotionally

When a couple decides to split, they are generally on different emotional timelines. This is one of the reasons why it is best to try and refrain from physical intimacy at the conclusion of your divorce. Each party should accept their own mistakes in the relationship and understand the finality of their decision. The financial and legal aspects of the divorce can be devastating, yet the emotional divorce is often the most difficult obstacle to overcome. By not moving on emotionally, parties may find it impossible to make joint decisions.

Acceptance Takes On Many Forms

Remember that each parent will play a significant role in the child’s life, and this will look differently during the various stages of his or her development. Don’t fall victim to comparisons or try and compete for your child’s attention or affection. Instead, find ways for your child to tell you what they need from you personally, as each of parent has an equal right to play an important parental role.

Showing the ability to approach this process together can set a good example for your child. Parents should strive to positively reflect on each other in comments and interactions with their child, as the child will have an acute awareness of what is going on around them.

For more information on co-parenting with a child in their tender years, or if you have questions regarding your individual circumstance, contact the family law attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide about the subject matter. A licensed Maryland attorney should be sought about your specific circumstances.