Adjusting your co-parenting plan to accommodate the unique needs of a teenager is a delicate yet potentially important task. The teenage years may require a different approach from both parents than you and your ex took when your child was younger.
As effective co-parenting during this period is essential for the well-being and development of your teen, it may be time to revisit your co-parenting plan and modify it while keeping certain realities – and the changing nature of your teen’s best interests – in mind.
Primary modification considerations
Consistency is vital in co-parenting, especially with a teenager. Both households should strive to maintain similar rules and expectations regarding curfews, homework, chores and behavior. Adjustments may need to be made to your parenting plan accordingly. This consistency can help your teen understand what is expected of them – and help them to avoid playing one parent off of the other – regardless of which parent they are with. Regular communication between parents is going to be important to ensure you’re on the same page.
As teens seek more independence, it’s important to respect their growing autonomy while still providing guidance. This can include allowing them to make more of their own choices, such as how they spend their time or manage certain responsibilities. Both parents should discuss and agree on the areas where the teen can exercise more independence and modify their parenting plan as needed.
Finally, you’ll want to keep in mind that teenagers often have busy schedules filled with school activities, sports, social events and potentially part-time jobs. Co-parents may need to be increasingly flexible with their parenting time schedule to accommodate these activities. Being adaptable and willing to trade days or adjust times can make a significant difference in your teen’s life.
In all decisions and adjustments to your co-parenting plan, the well-being of your teenager should be the primary focus. Be attentive to their emotional and physical needs as you make adjustments, and don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance if/when necessary.