Teens are interested in sexuality, individuality, peer involvement, and achieving independence. Their primary tasks are to come to terms with their changing bodies and changing moods. Social responsibility and adopting a moral code of behavior are crucial challenges that usher in the beginnings of adulthood. Although children at this stage are notorious for pushing their parents away, they need you to hang tough with them in order to feel secure. Let them push but you stay firm. They want to be heard and consulted about all aspects of parenting arrangements. They want the freedom to move between houses, sometimes to change their primary residence. Whether such moves are in their best interest depends upon the reasons and timing of their request: is this a chance to identify with the other parent and acquire some psychological space from the parent they feel most dependent on, or are they looking for lax rules and little supervision? Children at this age often believe they are more mature than they are, so be advised to gather input but to maintain final decision making authority. For excellent, free resources to help you create a parenting plan, click here.
During this time, the schedules for younger children may still work well. But teens often request more spontaneity, drop in times, and flexibility. Teens can benefit from every weekend away if parents live close by to one another. If not, summers away are often welcomed by all involved. However, employment, girl/boyfriends, and special projects generally provide the guidelines around which sensitive parents must conform. Click here for more terrific information.
An Additional Note about Overnights
Despite the guidelines listed above, there are many children who can tolerate overnights sooner rather than later. The controversy about when and how often children can tolerate overnights is still just a theoretical argument. We just what kids can tolerate. Overnights provide an important means of parent involvement: bedtimes are special moments is a child’s day. Much discussion, cuddling, teaching, and sharing can take place around evenings or mornings. If you are a father or mother who: has been involved with your child from birth; knows your child’s needs and habits; has time to focus in on your child when he is in your care; and shares a mutual, loving bond recognizable to those who know your family—then overnights should not automatically be ruled out because your child is an infant or toddler.
Excerpted from Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001). For more information: http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com/.
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