Visitation Schedules for Teenagers–Making Time for Family
Teenagers are always on the go. They have school, extra-curricular activities, some have part-time jobs, and of course, they have “social lives” and spend a lot of time with their friends.
All of these things keep teenagers busy. Married parents often find that they are not able to spend much time with their teenagers because the kids are rarely home.
How do divorced parents manage to spend time with their teenage children when they have to divide their busy child’s time? They do the best they can.
Start with creating a visitation schedule for your teenager that allows your child to spend an appropriate amount of time with each parent. You will need to decide when you child should spend time with each of you while working around their schedule.
This may look great on paper–until you find out that the schedule you wrote to accommodate football practice just doesn’t work a few months later when basketball season starts.
The key to creating a successful visitation schedule for a teenager is flexibility. Once you have established your visitation schedule, stick to it as best as you can.
For example, if visitation is supposed to start at 6pm but your daughter has cheerleading practice until 6:30pm, you may want to add the extra time that was missed on to the end of the visit.
The visitation schedule may start to feel like a “which house is my child going to sleep at tonight” schedule because sometimes it may feel like the only time you see your teen is just before he or she goes to bed.
You should try to establish some sort of routine that requires your teen to take time out of his or her “busy schedule” to make time for family.
This could be as simple as requiring your child to be home by 7:30 each night for dinner, regardless of who has visitation time. This might not work if your child has to work, but you could have your child request to have certain days off from work (such as every Wednesday) so he or she is able to spend that time with the non-custodial parent on a regular basis.
If you have had a visitation schedule for a school age child, all you had to worry about was working around his or her school schedule. Now, with all the activities and “plans” your teenager has, it may start to feel like he or she doesn’t need you.
In fact, teens need their parents more than ever. As they struggle to figure out who they are and become less dependent on their parents, teenage children still need to have their parents actively involved in their lives. They need guidance, discipline, and advice. These things should come from their parents.
You should also keep in mind that just because a teenager wants to do something doesn’t mean you have to grant them permission to do so. While having a sullen teenager sulking around the house isn’t appealing to most people, it is better than having no teenager sitting around the house at all.
Set down some ground rules and let your child know what is expected of him or her regarding family time and let him or her know that denying a social time request isn’t a punishment. Let him or her know that they are wanted and needed at home. It might not be a popular choice according to your teen but it is a good way to be able to spend a little time with your teenager.