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Parenting apart: The teen years

When you started your co-parenting journey, your child was only a few years old. Now, she's approaching adulthood and you know that there could be issues on the horizon. As a young teen, there are plenty of things she's going through, and that can be hard for mothers or fathers.

As your teen grows up, she's likely to want to be more independent. Will that affect the way your parenting plan works? Possibly, which is why it's important to talk to your teen about the plan in place and why it is the way it is.

Developing a parenting plan

The plan you had when your child was younger may no longer work for your teen. Perhaps your teen has a job closer to the other parent's home or goes to school closer to your home. Whatever the changes are, it's a good idea to look into adjusting for them. You can talk to your teen about what might be easier in the coming year or two, so you and your ex-spouse can work together to make the parenting arrangements as simple as possible.

Defining a clear schedule is necessary for your teen's health and well-being. Here's an example.

If your teen has a job on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday closer to her father's home, it may be beneficial to change a biweekly schedule to one where your teen lives with her father Monday through Thursday and with you from Friday through Sunday. Likewise, if your teen has after-school activities that you can't pick her up from but her father or mother can, you may wish to adjust for that arrangement during the days when those activities are planned.

You and your ex-spouse should speak about expectations with your teen. As your teen grows, give her more responsibility. She should know the plan and where she goes after school or during the weekend. She should have an idea about where she spends the holidays and school breaks. You can also talk to your teen about any changes she may want to make to the arrangements already in place, so that her right to independence is respected while still providing structure in the home.

Any detailed parenting plan still needs to contain financial responsibilities of each parent, plans for what happens if a parent is ill, or your teen is ill, and how you stay in contact when your teen travels between houses.

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