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We teach our kids to share, but what about parents?

Parents often try to teach their children important life lessons by setting a good example. But parents are not perfect and there are some situations in which it can be very difficult to set that good example. For instance, when two parents are getting a divorce, they can get tangled up in heated emotions and complex situations that make it very difficult to act in a certain way. Often, parents are fighting to protect themselves and their relationship with their child, which can make them say and do things they normally wouldn't.

Divorce is something that adults do, but it is something that children also experience. While every parent wants to protect their children during this difficult time, it may be a good idea for parents to take a step back to consider one important lesson they want their children to learn: sharing. This can be especially helpful when it comes to discussions of child custody.

Over the years, shared parenting has been gaining acceptance among divorced parents and judges in family court. Unlike custody arrangements that assign primary custody to one parent and visitation rights to another, shared parenting focuses on giving moms and dads equal parenting rights. In a shared custody arrangement, a child is given the opportunity to spend the same amount of time with each parent, which some sources say is the best option for kids. 

Even though there are no laws in Minnesota that specifically favor shared parenting, laws are being adopted in other states that do call for equitable custody arrangements when appropriate. And when shared parenting is not appropriate, judges generally have the flexibility to make the necessary adjustments.

Although it can be very difficult for parents to agree to a shared and equal parenting arrangement, it is crucial to remember that a child's well-being is the top priority in any custody dispute, and many children benefit from spending equal time with each parent. Even though moms and dads may not want to work together or give up time with their child, they may want to consider the importance of sharing. After all, isn't that what we teach our children?

Source: USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome," Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 27, 2014

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