Co-Parenting Through the Teenage Years After A Divorce

By |2017-10-31T07:35:31+00:00October 31st, 2017|Co-Parenting, Divorce, Wellness|0 Comments

When children develop into teenagers, the parent/child dynamic completely changes. While it’s a struggle to parent teenagers as it is, co-parenting a teenager after a divorce can be even more difficult. Even though this is a challenge, and many parents dread the thought of their babies growing into teens, it’s going to happen whether parents are ready or not. Hopefully, those who wish to co-parent their teens in as successful a manner as possible will find these pieces of advice from licensed professionals in the field of psychology to be helpful, and beneficial as they embark on the challenge of co-parenting children who have grown into teens.

Discuss the Important Issues as a Team Ahead of Time

When children become teenagers, the issues co-parents face begin to completely change. This is a time when parents should have a co-parenting meeting, and discuss all of the new challenges and issues that are likely to arise as the years move forward.  When parents can unite and agree on consistent rules for teenagers between both homes, this can create a strong sense of consistency, safety and security for teens in the wake of a divorce. Some important topics for parents to discuss and come to an agreement upon ahead of time, according to LMFT Tara Fass include:

  • Permissions
  • Driving privileges
  • Who will purchase the car
  • Where and when the teen will be allowed to drive and with whom
  • If the teen will be allowed to get an after school job, and where
  • Curfews and house rules
  • Chores around both homes
  • Tattoos, haircuts, and piercings
  • What to do if the teen wants to enlist in the armed forces
  • What to do if the teen wants to drop out of school
  • Substance abuse topics
  • Sex, sexual health, and pregnancy
  • Teen dating

Authorize Certain Items to Move Between Both Homes

 It can help keep a sense of consistency when parents allow certain possessions of the teen to be transported back and forth between the two homes, according to Fass. These types of items that should be allowed back and forth between homes include:

  • Automobiles
  • Cell phones
  • Laptops and tablets
  • Clothing
  • Toys

Allow Room for Friends

 Friends are incredibly important to teenagers, says Dr. Lisa Garbardi, PhD, and thus it’s of the utmost importance for parents to allow for sufficient time to be spent with friends while the teens are at each home. It may feel difficult to lose time spent with a child because they want to be with their friends, but it’s healthy and important for teens to have support from their peers, and to have the freedom to spend time with others. Parents may want to discuss which friends their teens are allowed to spend time with ahead of time, as there are such things as bad influence friends that correlate with trouble. Parents will want to be in the loop pertaining to who their teens are spending time with, when, where, etc.

Respect the Importance of Family

 Teenagers may act like their parents are suddenly the most uncool people on the face of the planet, when they used to see their parents as super heroes. This is completely normal, and a phase that all children will go through at one point or another. Teenagers are full of hormones, and are changing at a rapid pace. They are going to act like they want nothing to do with family, while it’s actually incredibly important to them, and to their sense of safety and security. After a divorce, teenagers may become extra moody, or detached from family. This doesn’t mean they don’t want a relationship with a parent, and many cases of addiction have been found to stem from a disconnected parent during one’s teen years. This is an especially delicate time in the life of a teenager when two parents divorce. This is one reason why co-parenting teens is of the utmost importance. According to Dr. Edward Kruk, PhD, parents who unite as a co-parenting force for their teens are helping combat the risk of the child developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Attend Important Events Together

 When kids are teenagers, there are a variety of events that are important to them, and they likely will want both parents to attend. If parents are able to be friendly together in public for the children, it may be a good idea to attend certain events together for the teen. This way they will not have to see their parents in the crowd sitting on opposite ends of the bleachers, which can trigger emotions for the teenager. Such events parents will want to consider attending together include:

  • School performances
  • Parent/teacher conferences
  • Graduation
  • Homecoming
  • Sporting events
  • Science fairs
  • Awards ceremonies
  • Spelling bees
  • Family night events

Promote Open Communication

 When children grow into teenagers, they are at a level where they can talk more with parents about the divorce, and co-parenting duties with significantly more maturity and openness. Parents should promote open and honest communication with teenagers that doesn’t involve them in any of the personal details of the divorce, or disparage the other parent in any way says Dr. Kruk. When teenagers feel like they have a voice, and are respected and treated as more of adults than children, they will feel more comfortable talking with parents on a real level, and opening up about the things that are going on in their lives, and within their emotions surrounding not only the divorce, but the struggles they face as teenagers through life. Open communication can facilitate healing in amazing ways for both parents and teenagers after going through a divorce.



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