Co-parenting is a journey that evolves as children grow, and when children enter their teenage years, the dynamics between all family members often change dramatically. Teens are at a stage where they’re developing their own identities, forming more complex relationships outside the family and generally striving for more independence. For co-parents, this phase offers challenges and opportunities for growth and adaptation.
It’s possible that you’re facing a reality in which once you feel like you’ve just gotten a handle on co-parenting younger children, the teenage years present a new set of guidelines. If so, it’s essential to revisit and revise your co-parenting strategies to meet the needs of your evolving family.
It’s time to let them make some decisions
Gone are the days when you could decide what your child will wear, eat or who they can play with sans input. Teenagers are at a point in their lives where they crave autonomy and the freedom to make their own decisions. Of course, this doesn’t mean giving them free rein to do whatever they want. It’s about allowing them the space to learn, make mistakes and grow.
Empowering your teen to make responsible choices can instill confidence and teach them vital life skills like problem-solving and accountability. Whether it’s letting them decide what extracurricular activities they want to pursue or involving them in discussions about family rules, your goal should be to guide, not dictate. Your parenting plan may need to be updated to reflect changing expectations accordingly.
Be flexible with parenting time due to their busy schedule
The days of your child’s life revolving around family activities and school are slowly fading away. Teens have their own lives filled with schoolwork, social events and perhaps even part-time jobs. This busy schedule may mean that the parenting time you were accustomed to might need to change. If a weekend with one parent is impossible due to a school event, try to make up for it during the week. Open communication between co-parents is essential in making these adjustments smoothly.
Technology can be your ally
For better or worse, technology is a significant part of most teenagers’ lives. Co-parents can leverage this to their advantage by using apps and shared calendars to coordinate schedules, discuss concerns and track academic performance. This can simplify communication and help parents stay in the loop without hovering over their increasingly independent teen.
It may be necessary to modify your family’s parenting plan to address the changing circumstances that are likely to affect your teen. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to start.