What is parenting time?

A major struggle we see in a lot of cases is one parent trying to dictate everything that the other parent does or doesn’t do during their time. Maybe Dad just has a different parenting style and Mom wants to change that. Sometimes it’s the other way around.

So, what is the “parenting time” in parenting time? Basically, there’s autonomy of parenting time. In other words, if you are NOT on duty with your kids, it’s NOT your decision. That means what the kids wear, who they talk to, when they can use their iPad, what they eat. You cannot control these things when it’s not your parenting time.

It’s very easy to interfere with the other person’s parenting time, especially through texting. Interjecting yourself right into the other person’s parenting time is not wise co-parenting.

Parenting time is not only the opportunity for the child to increase and reinforce their bond with their parents. It’s also for the child to feel comfortable now that Mom and Dad are no longer married.

If you don’t have autonomy of parenting time when you are on duty with your children, it’s very confusing and anxiety provoking for them.

A vicious cycle can easily begin with:

Child: “I’m not allowed to do this.”

Parent on Duty: “What do you mean?”

Child: “Mom or Dad says I can’t.”

Parent on Duty: “We have different rules here. Don’t worry.”

Child: “Mom says I have to text her what I’m doing with you, she’ll be angry.”

This puts children in conflict because little kids think something is either right or wrong. So, either it’s right or wrong to do “fun stuff” with Daddy / Mommy.

A child needs to know who’s in charge when a parent is on duty. Take the classroom example, kids never say: “I can’t to this Mr. Teacher, Mom / Dad says I can’t.” kids automatically know who’s in charge in the classroom. In fact, we are used to saying: “Listen to your Teacher” it must be the same with parenting time. This gives the child a sense of security.

You must respect the autonomy of parenting time, where the parent on duty, is responsible for making discretionary childcare decisions. If the other parent doesn’t like it, that’s a co-parenting problem, which hopefully the children will not be dragged into.

You deserve to be happy and be the best parent you can be for your children.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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