Parenting plan: Think about the teenage years too

For the past 15 years the state of Missouri has required parents to submit parenting plans anytime documents are filed with the courts related to child custody and visitation. The point of these parenting plans is to create a stable environment for children whose parents are no longer living together.

These parenting plans should be made with the best interests of the children kept in mind. Information related to child custody, visitation and decision making rights and responsibilities are just some of the topics these plans can touch on. However, to avoid conflict later on down the road and to maintain expectations for children, parents should come to agreements on how to handle the more “teenage” like experiences.

For example, getting a car is a big deal for a teenager. However, it is not fair to a child to only be allowed to drive at mom’s house, but not at dad’s, or vice versa. Rather, parents should come to an agreement on driving rules and not limit the driving privileges to when the child is with the parent that purchased their car.

There are also the tougher decisions parents need to make. Will children under the age of 18 be allowed to get tattoos and body piercings? What are the rules on curfews and substance use? Will tobacco be allowed?

These are just some of the agreements parents need to come to. Any repercussions assigned to say things like drinking alcohol or missing curfews also need to be agreed upon and enforced in the same ways at both parents’ homes.

In general, the more thought that is put into co-parenting now, the better. The more clear and concise, the easier it is for the children and the less of a chance of arguing later on down the road.

Source: The Huffington Post, “7 Tips For Co-Parenting Teens,” Tara Fass, Jan. 23, 2013

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