Raising teenagers can be tough in any circumstances, but for Connecticut parents who are divorced, there can be extra challenges. If the parents have been navigating tough co-parenting situations for years, this might seem like the time they can relax a little, but this is the wrong move. Teens need a different kind of guidance compared to younger children, but they still need some.
The parents' instincts to be more flexible is not a bad one. It is important to not be rigid about the parenting schedule as teens become more independent and have more friends, activities, and obligations. However, giving teens more space should not mean failing to keep up with their friends or what they are doing. Too often, each divorced parent will assume the other has taken on this role, and because they are no longer talking as much, they do not realize that this is not the case. Teens left largely to their own devices may be irresponsible with their freedom. Parents should still make an effort to get to know their teens' friends and to communicate with one another about their children.
Teens will also need additional guidance from one parent if the other parent has an unstable life. This stability allows the teen to test independence in a safe atmosphere.
Parents who are making a permanent change to the child custody and visitation schedule may need to return to court to get a modification. Even when both parents agree on the schedule, making it legally binding can protect all of the parties if one parent does not observe its terms. For example, parents are not permitted to deny access to a parent who has fallen behind on child support payments. Courts have other ways of assisting parents in collecting past due amounts.