As children mature during adolescence and their later teen years, they want their needs and opinions to be considered when parenting decisions must be made. Little kids need to know what the rules are while bigger kids need to understand why the rules are the way they are. As your child moves through adolescence and young adulthood, you need to stop treating them the way you did when they were younger. Instead of telling them how things are going to be, listen to what they want and involve them in the decision-making process. For divorced parents, this can mean updating co-parenting philosophies you’ve followed since your kids were small. Below we have listed some parenting issues to revisit as your children mature.
Young children need frequent contact with both parents to feel connected to each of them. Kids rely on their parents to identify and meet their needs. As children begin to individualize, they become more cognizant of their own needs and don’t require as much direction from parents. For instance, an adolescent may want to spend more time with his same-gender parent, or a teenage girl may want to live primarily with her mother, simply because that home is closer to her friends.
When kids are little and rely on parents to structure their lives, effective communication with your co-parent is essential to provide consistency. Once kids are older, they should be encouraged to advocate for themselves and direct any issues with one parent to that parent specifically. Running interference infantilizes mature children and creates conflict with your ex-spouse. It’s important to support your children in finding their own voice.
Frequency of contact
When drafting custody agreements, many parents detail how often they’re allowed to speak to their children when they’re at the other parent’s home. Staying in regular close contact with both parents is important to help your child form secure attachments. It’s important to remember that the amount of contact you have with your child should change as they get older. For instance, your three-year-old may have needed to FaceTime with you every day, while your 15-year-old is probably more interested in FaceTiming their friends. Don’t intrude on your children’s time because you’re having separation anxiety. Give them space and encourage them to reach out to you when need be.
Young adult children are busy forming their grown-up lives. Once they start their own family, and/or move away, planning holidays and vacation time gets more complicated and expensive. This fact of life holds true for intact families but is even more complex with divorced families. You may not be able to celebrate Thanksgiving and winter holidays the way you did when your kids were growing up, so adjust your expectations.
At Bozanian McGregor, LLC our family law attorneys are here for you every step of the way. We know that revisiting your parenting plan can feel threatening as you face the reality that your child is forming their own identity, but this should be the goal of every parent. Regardless of marital status, recognize who your children are and support them in becoming healthy, independent adults. Contactus today to begin the process of reevaluating our custody agreement.