The Parenting Plan for Your (Early) Teenager
Children between thirteen and fifteen use the family as a base for support and guidance, explains Dr. Debra Carter, who explains the teenager Parenting Plan.
Though they may not show it, young adolescents continue to need both the nurturing and the oversight of their parents. Decision making ability varies widely in this age group as well as from one situation to another.
Girls tend to mature earlier than boys. The primary task for children of this age is one of increasing independence from the family and developing a separate identity. They are involved in the difficult task of preparing themselves to function as young adults.
As their bodies change and they begin to physically develop into adults, they may feel more self-conscious, they may feel more emotionally sensitive, and their need for privacy will increase. It is necessary to provide them privacy while staying aware of their activities. There is an increase in moodiness, tiredness, and sloppiness. They will want to have a “say” in things that matter to them. They want explanations, will voice their opinions more loudly, and may become argumentative.
Children have frequently formed close relationships with other teachers, adults, peers, and generally regard their relationships with their peers as the most important relationships in their lives. They want to spend much more time with their friends and less time with their parents. They have strong opinions and want to have more control over their lives. They should be expected to assume greater responsibility for their decisions and consequences of their actions. If they are given some flexibility in their schedules and the arrangements, most adolescents can adapt, compromise, and enjoy the limited time they chose to spend with the parent.
Parents need to provide safe options for this exploration while setting reasonable limits and appropriate rules (curfew, family tasks, responsibility for schoolwork). The challenge for parents of these early adolescents is to support their growing independence while maintaining basic structure and close contact with both parents. The guidelines must be reasonable, firm, and fair, as should the privileges and consequences. It will be important that the parents talk or communicate directly with each other to be certain that the child is safe and accountable. Children are exposed to a variety of situations that put them at risk, and parents must stay informed and able to discuss these hard topics (sexual behaviors, alcohol use, drug abuse).
If the teen’s needs are not met, there may be excessive anger and negativity. Children this age may begin to hide out or stay away from others. School difficulties become evident as the demands of school become greater. There will be an increase in the acting out, sometimes with increased sneakiness, lying, and risky behaviors. Out and out defiance of rules is a real concern.
When Writing a Plan for Your Early Teen, Remember:
- The child’s schedule, commitments, and obligations must be taken into consideration.
- Flexible creative plans that would not have worked for younger children may be considered.
- While each parent may have a longer period of time without the child in residence, theparent should increase contact and awareness through regular attendance at the child’sathletic events, performances, academic events, and other activities.
- Frequent communication between parents is advised as children may distort the situation and put one parent against another. Consider communicating by using a journal, email, phone calls or “business type” meeting.
To view work of Debra K. Carter, PhD’s book called COPARENTING AFTER DIVORCE A GPS FOR HEALTHY KIDS please click here: http://unhookedbooks.com/coparenting-after-divorce/