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Parenting Plans for Teenagers: Balancing Freedom and Limits

Updated on December 22, 2011

Parenting plans are formal documents that outline the responsibilities that divorced parents have in raising their children. While parenting plans for younger children should be more rigid in structure, parenting plans for teenagers are usually more open to accommodate an active lifestyle that many teens develop.

As divorced parents, you need to create a detailed parenting plan so that your teen will know what to expect in any given week. A detailed schedule gives teens a feeling of stability and a predictable routine can help offset some of the stress your divorce may cause. A detailed parenting plan for school age children will include a calendar that specifies things like where the teen will stay each night or which parent is responsible for driving the teen to school or work.


There are a number of things to keep in mind as you create a parenting plan for teenagers that will allow healthy growth and development. When you remember these tips about teenagers, you and the other parent can better assist them in transitioning from dependent to independent.

Teenagers need freedom. Teenagers are working toward becoming independent adults, so give them plenty of chances to pursue outside interests, such as employment or educational pursuits. Extracurricular activities are also important to a teenager’s social development. At this age, teenagers will often choose to spend time with friends over family, as well.

Teenagers need limits. While teenagers may act quite independent and even challenge too many restrictions on their time, they need firm boundaries from parents. While teens may push parents toward fewer limits, they do need help and support in making wise decisions. You and the other parent must agree to abide by the same house rules so your teen can expect consistency. Stay firm on things such as curfew, dating and grades, and work with the other parent to have the same expectations at both locations.

Teenagerss need guidance. As teens approach adulthood, they need guidance from both parents on adopting their own moral and ethical code. In your parenting plan, provide opportunities for plenty of one-on-one time with your teen to discuss sensitive issues, such as peer pressure, sexuality or higher education. Even though teenagers tend to push parents away, they still benefit from plenty of positive interaction.

Teenagers need to be heard. At this age, teenagers can offer valuable insight into what makes a workable parenting plan. Listen to your teen as he or she gives an opinion on making a visitation schedule. For example, one teen may like the idea of spending alternating weeks with separated parents, while another teen would rather divide the time by weekdays versus weekends. Because your teen is the focus of the parenting plan, seek opinions on what he or she would like to happen.

Teenagers are still children. As much as teens believe they have all the answers, you know there are many areas where your teen needs the life experience of both parents. From getting a driver’s license to applying for colleges, you and the other parent have valuable insight into the transition from teen to adult. Support your teen’s relationship with the other parent and expect the same respect in return. Your parenting plan can outline ways you both can support your teen during developmental milestones to help master necessary life skills.

Many parents find it difficult to begin the process of creating a parenting plan for teenagers. Custody X Change is a software program designed to help separated parents create parenting plans and visitation schedules for children of all ages. The parenting plan templates allow you to customize a plan that will work best for your teen.


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