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Should I include discipline and religion in my parenting plan?

Your parenting plan is a flexible document for you and your child's other parent to put in place agreements for how you'll raise your child -- or children -- together. Having a solid parenting plan helps to ensure you are both on the same page and will hopefully reduce the chances of having serious disagreements over parenting choices later on down the road.

Aside from the usual things, like how you will organize your child's living arrangements, how to organize pickups and drop-offs and visitation schedules, there are two other topics you will also want to include. 

How to discipline your child

Some parents believe in timeouts, while others take away certain privileges. Then -- there are discipline measures that are appropriate for a 5-year-old, but ones that look vastly different with a teenager.

You and your child's other parent are also different people who may have different parenting styles and backgrounds. Because of this, you will want to consider including provisions in your parenting plan addressing how you will handle discipline. You may want to include specifics as to what is OK and what is never allowed. For example:

  • Disciplinary measures may not conflict with the other parent's parenting time or visits unless both parents agree.
  • If significant disciplinary measures arise, the parents will inform one another about them and determine how to respond jointly.
  • The parents will teach their child to respect adults, the law and their teachers.

2. Agreements about religion and religious education

In addition to how you will parent, you will also want to include religion and religious education in your agreement. What your agreement looks like it entirely dependent on your joint feelings regarding religion and whether or not you both want your child involved in religious activities growing up. Such stipulations may include:  

  • Both parents will bring the child to church for regular worship.
  • Both parents agree that the children will not be asked to participate in religious activities.
  • The parents will raise the child under the religious tradition that they agree to.
  • Parents will not have the child participate in religious institutions or activities unless the other parent agrees.

Choose the right parenting provisions 

Parenting provisions are all about seeing into the future and predicting points of potential disagreement, then agreeing to them before they become a problem within the parenting plan. The hope is that your children will have similar expectations with both of their parents and that you and your ex will be able to co-parent together in the most effective way possible. 

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