The transition from one parent’s household to the other’s can be a stressful and ongoing problem, as can your teenaged child’s ongoing desire for independence during these transitional years. One solution that your Ventura County family attorney can suggest is to employ the structure of the child’s school schedule as a tool.
How to use the school schedule as a tool
The set time frame of arrival and departure for school, along with individual extracurricular activities and school holidays establish a consistency. While it may be problematic for the parents to see each other, if one drops off the child and the other picks up the child, no parental interaction is necessary.
Further, children in this age group may be fine and actually thrive on an extended stay at one parent’s home, say for the seven days over Easter break. This will depend of course on the maturity and needs of the child.
The child’s involvement in the caretaking arrangements
It is necessary to maintain a consistent, stable and predictable plan for the older child, just as you provided when he or she was younger. However, the adolescent child will want a say-so in the plan. It is far more likely the child will consider the plan to be fair if he or she had some input into its formation.
Maintaining a relationship with the family vs. establishing independence
Typically the child in the age group between 13-18 will want it all; that is, she will want her family around, but on her terms and only when she wants them. Her friends may seem more important, but she needs to know family is there when needed. She will compare how these issues play out in each of Mom and Dad’s house. The best thing you can do is be consistent. Whether fair or not, realistic or irrational, understand you will be judged by your child.
The independence of the older adolescent
Driving changes the game. When they or their friends gain mobility, a whole new set of rules is required. Safety, curfews, and communication are some issues, but the standard is still the same. Both parents should speak, agree on a plan and perhaps most importantly consistently follow through.
Where circumstances warrant, it may be necessary to employ the services of a skilled mediator or therapist. Gary Mitchell, a Ventura County family attorney has multiple resources to assist you through these life altering changes. Mr. Mitchell may be reached at (805) 449-4244.