Parenting a teenager is an entirely different adventure than parenting a younger child. You might find that some aspects of parenthood are much easier with your teen, while others are much more difficult. If you are co-parenting your teenager with an ex-spouse then you will probably face new challenges that did not exist when he or she was younger.
Kids during the teenage years are busy developing their own lives, including establishing preferred social circles and personal activities. Teenagers are also under a lot of pressure at school and with friends. These things can make parenting your teen difficult, but you and your ex’s actions could be making it harder than it has to be.
Do not stop coordinating
The pickup and drop off schedule you followed before your child could drive might not be necessary any longer if he or she has a car. This means that you and your ex do not really need to coordinate who will get your child around from place to place. Since coordinating these schedules can sometimes be logistically difficult — especially if one parent works irregular hours — it can feel like a huge relief.
Do not forget that teenagers are still in the process of learning responsibility, which they often do by pushing boundaries. It is possible that your child could take advantage of this newly found freedom if you or your ex are not coordinating when your teen will leave one parent’s house and arrive at another. You might be tired of keeping up with this process, but remember that since your child is a teenager, it will only last a few more years.
Stay actively involved
You used to know who all of your child’s friends were, but teenagers are not always forthcoming about personal information with their parents. You can take personal steps to improve this situation, such as encouraging your child to invite his or her friends to hang out at your home. Another strategy is to maintain open lines of communication with your teen’s other parent, who can relay important information.
Maintaining an active role in your teen’s life will also help you decide when it is best to enforce the parenting plan and when it is okay to be flexible. On top of social lives and school work, your child might be participating in after-school activities. These obligations do not always align with the schedule that you and your ex created, so be sure to get on the same page about how to handle these types of situations.
Remember that co-parenting takes work
You did not get divorced because you and your ex had a positive and happy marriage. Working together to co-parent your child was probably difficult at first, but maybe you settled into the best possible routine when he or she was younger. Since co-parenting a teenager is usually much different, be prepared to work towards establishing a new normal.
Sometimes it is not enough to just be flexible when co-parenting your teenager. Your current custody agreement may not reflect the needs and best interests of your child, making it difficult for everyone involved. If you need help modifying your current agreement, or if you are going through a divorce and need to create a custody agreement for your teenager, you could probably benefit from expert guidance. You can accomplish this by speaking with a knowledgeable attorney who is well-versed in Indiana family law.