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Parenting middle and high school students through a divorce

Consistent expectations and clear rules are imperative for the success of any child. They need structure to understand the world around them, as well as their role within it. This is particularly true as children move into adolescence and their teenage years. During this trying time, young adults and adolescents often test limits and boundaries.

They may not adequately understand the consequences of the decisions that they make, but they do often feel compelled to take both physical and social risks. It is a difficult age for parents in any circumstance, but parenting adolescents and teenagers is particularly hard for parents going through a divorce or who have already divorced.

Children and teenagers are smart, and they may attempt to use the divorce as either a bargaining chip when negotiating with parents or as a means of destabilizing parental routines. You and your ex can work together to ensure that this does not happen by creating a solid parenting plan.

A parenting plan requires that you both agree about school performance and rules

Having consistent rules between both households makes it easier for your children to follow the rules. It also makes it easier for you and your ex to consistently parent your children in the same manner. You will have to agree on a wide range of considerations, including:

  • school performance and grades
  • extracurricular activities
  • socialization with friends
  • socialization with romantic interests
  • dating
  • parties
  • drugs and alcohol
  • homework
  • curfew
  • part-time jobs

If you don't have consistent rules in each of these areas already in writing, it is time to work them out with your ex. You need to agree on all of these critical issues so that you can create a standardized framework for your child to succeed in at both houses.

When you expect the same level of performance and the same kind of behavior from your children, it is easier for them to know when they are breaking the rules and harder for them to attempt to claim ignorance after a rule violation.

Parenting teenagers is hard enough without fighting the other parent

You do not need to be negotiating rules or consequences with your ex on the day that your kid comes home with a detention. That will make the whole situation more stressful for everyone involved. You should have already set terms that you both agree to in your parenting plan.

It is never too late to adjust your parenting plan with your ex to reflect the maturation and social growth of your children. The more thoroughly you address potential parenting issues and the more firmly you both agree with the terms, the easier it will be for you to parent your children during and after the divorce.

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