As kids grow up, it’s only natural that they want more freedom and responsibility. This can include the ability to stay home alone, go to and from school, the library or store on their own, have their own cellphone or use kitchen appliances like the oven without adult supervision. As kids get into their teen years, they’ll continue to test their boundaries.
All of this can be frightening for parents. It’s natural to be torn between wanting your kids to become more independent and fearing they’ll suffer some kind of harm. Increasing your kids’ freedoms can be even more challenging when they’re being parented across two households.
While you and your co-parent won’t have exactly the same expectations of your kids, it’s important to agree on the significant things. As your kids ask for more freedom, it’s best for the two of you to have similar rules. If you don’t think your child is old enough to be at home alone but your co-parent does, that’s something the two of you should work out. Otherwise, your child will be frustrated and angry. Remember the consistency is crucial.
Don’t try to be the “popular” parent by giving your child freedoms that your co-parent is strongly against. Work toward an agreement on what’s right for your child based on their age and maturity.
Fortunately, technology makes keeping track of our kids easier than ever. You can track your kids via their cellphones. You can also require them to check in when they get where they’re going — including their other parent’s home, if they’re old enough to get there on their own.
If you and your co-parent can get on the same page with your kids’ increasing freedoms while they’re young, it will likely be easier to continue that cooperation as they get older and want to drive places on their own or stay out late. If you believe that codifying what your kids can and can’t do across both homes is necessary — particularly if you and your ex can’t agree — talk with your attorney about seeking modifications to your parenting agreement.