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Think about the teenage years when creating a parenting plan

Thumbnail image for 19670917_S.jpgIn order to create a more stable environment for children whose parents are no longer living together, the state of Missouri has required parents to submit parenting plans. These parenting plans are required every time documents related to child custody and visitations are filed with the courts.

All decisions of the parenting plan should keep the best interests of the children in mind. Plans can cover child custody, visitation and decision making rights and responsibilities among other things. Parents should be able to look ahead and plan for the more "teenage" like experiences. This will create proper expectations for the children and avoid conflict later on down the road.

As an example, getting a car is a big step for a teenage. It is not fair for a child to only be allowed to drive at one parent's house and not the other. Parents should create the rules for driving in the parenting plan early so there is an agreement in place before this time comes. It should not limit driving privileges based on what parent the child is with at the given moment.

There are also other tough decisions parents must make. Will children under the age of 18 be allowed to get tattoos and body piercings? What are the rules on curfews and substance use? Will tobacco be allowed?

These are just some of the examples of agreements parents must make. Both parents need to agree upon and enforce repercussions for things like drinking alcohol and being late for curfew the same way.

Generally, the more thought parents put into co-parenting now, the better. The more clear and concise now, the easier it is for the children and parents to avoid arguing later on down the road.

Source: The Huffington Post, "7 Tips For Co-Parenting Teens," Tara Fass, Jan. 23, 2013

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