Ask any parent, and they will tell you that every stage of childhood brings its own challenges. Parenting a teenager is often cited as one of the most difficult time to parent your child, as they gain independence and their own identity. Adding a divorce to a teenager’s life will make things more complicated, emotional, and sometimes even chaotic. If you are going through a divorce or separation, there are special parenting considerations you need to keep in mind to effectively co-parent your teenager.
One of the keys to making sure you effectively co-parent your teenager is an emphasis on communication with the other parent. Keeping an open line of communication will help you and the co-parent assist the teenager with coordinating extracurricular schedules, getting homework done on time, and making sure any work obligations are met. Without communication, it is easy for games to get missed or homework assignments forgotten at the other parent’s house.
Another key is providing your teenager with flexibility. Teenagers are at a stage in their life when friends and extracurriculars are likely their focus, as opposed to spending hours of family time with their parents. This will usually mean a lot of demands on the teenager’s schedule, which cannot be met if the co-parents have a rigid approach to the parenting schedule. Providing your teenager with a degree of freedom and flexibility to determine what schedule best meets his or her needs can make sure the entire family stays happy.
Third, remember that even if your teenager is on the cusp of adulthood, he or she is still a child. Avoid the temptation to overshare the details of your divorce, even if you believe your child is mature enough to understand. This is especially important if there is a high degree of animosity between you and the other parent. Remaining neutral and steering clear of negative comments about your ex helps your teenager to cope.
Finally, even though your teenager is old enough to understand divorce and the process, do not underestimate the emotional impact the divorce is still likely to have on your child. Family therapy or individual counseling can be a wonderful tool to help him or her process the events and adjust to the “new normal” of two separate households.
We have extensive experience helping our clients with all divorce-related issues. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 to talk about your case and your children.