Parenting children of any age is challenging. However, divorced parents who are raising teenagers face some unique hurdles. Whether you have been co-parenting with your ex since your child was young or you are newly divorced, facing those challenges is much easier when you are well informed.
One of the biggest things to remember is that it is normal for your teen to start pushing boundaries. Part of being a teen is getting ready to be an adult. He or she might be more concerned about exploring newly found freedom than what your custody agreement says.
Your teen is busier than ever
You and your ex were in charge of your teen’s schedule when he or she was younger. While you still make some scheduling decisions, he or she has more personal commitments that fall outside your realm of control. School, homework and after school activities take a lot of time. It is also important for teens to maintain active social lives. Many are even juggling part-time jobs on top of that.
The parenting schedule will not always line up with all those commitments. Being flexible is key, although it is not always easy. You and your teen’s other parent should be willing to bend the parenting plan when necessary. By allowing him or her to keep commitments, you will help foster a sense of responsibility.
Maintain open lines of communication
It is true that your teen is getting more freedom and responsibilities, so you might expect that he or she will keep you up to date on daily life. Unfortunately, teenagers are not exactly known for being open with their thoughts and feelings. This means that you might only know about things that happen while your teen is at your house, and the same could be true for your ex.
Since you are both committed to co-parenting, you need to keep talking to each other about the important things. This can be about anything from conflict with friends to poor grades at school. Neither of you should assume that you have access to the same information.
Keep working together
You know how important it is to provide the same type of consistent guidance for children across households. Maybe your teen seems like he or she can handle different expectations, but this is not true. Having different curfews and smartphone rules can be confusing and make things harder for everyone.
Child custody agreements should always reflect children’s best interests, but those interests change over time. It might be time to update your old agreement, or if you are currently going through a divorce, you should not specifically consider your teenager’s unique needs. So, whether you need to petition the court for a modification or need help creating your first agreement, you should be sure to work with an attorney experienced with Texas family law.