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Advice on "same page" co-parenting for teen children

Every parent knows that children's needs for parental attention change as they age. Infants and toddlers demand constant care; school-age children want a little more independence, and teens like to test rules and boundaries. Family therapists stress that, when a family has gone through a divorce, it's vital that parents develop a parenting plan that lays down the law for teens, no matter which parent they're with.

Georgia teens are focused on their futures, but they have a lot more than just school on their minds. Regardless of which parent has child custody, children should have no doubt about how their parents feel when it comes to the major issues that can be game-changers in their lives.

Some of the areas where parents should establish rules for young teens include cell phone, smart phone and Internet usage. Whether a teenager is allowed to get an after-school or summer job and what an employed teen does with his or her earnings are common issues where teens and parents may disagree. Parents should agree on goals for a child's higher education, including how they will pay for college, and whether children will be allowed to enlist in military service as minors. Conversations about sexual behavior, birth control, alcohol, drug and tobacco usage, while difficult, are well worth the moments of awkward embarrassment they may cause.

Experts recommend including these guidelines in a written parenting plan so there are no questions about what Mom and Dad have agreed to. Some families smartly include a divorce lawyer that specializes in child custody in the process of drafting a clear, concise agreement that takes children from their teenage years into young adulthood.

Source: Huffington Post, "7 tips for co-parenting teens," Tara Fass, Jan. 23, 2013

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