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Co-Parenting Teenagers- Beware!

by Kristen Hilty

Children learn from an early age that if mom says no, ask dad or vice-versa.  As we all know, it only gets worse as they get older and the only way to combat it is to communicate with your partner – find out what the other one said before responding.  Easier said than done – especially when you’re divorced.  And possibly have strained communications.  You may think you have the most responsible and mature teenager ever bred.  A teenager is just a teenager, and they will play you both like a fiddle if you let your guard down for a minute.

 

For their sake, especially during the teenage years, this is critical.  For example, your teen may ask for a sleepover at a friend’s.  If you have said no and they ask the other parent and they say yes and don’t talk to you, that sets a precedent and lets your child know their parents aren’t only divorced, but not only on the same page about parenting them.  If they ask you for a sleepover – or any other event – trip, concert, dance – and you have said no (or yes) tell your spouse.  If you think the decision may be controversial, give your spouse the courtesy of talking to them before a decision is made.  It’s okay to tell your child, “I need to talk to mom/dad before WE make a decision”.  That also lets the child know you’re communicating with your ex.  The moment they think you aren’t communicating is the moment they will take control and use their teenage super powers to manipulate both of you to get their way.

 

Parenting a teen is never easy.  Throw in divorce just for an extra challenge but it doesn’t have to be impossible.  As strained as your personal relationship with your ex may be, it’s essential to keep communication about the children open.  Communication with your ex before you respond to your teen’s request – through email, text, whatever form you both can handle – is the key.  

At Better Divorce Solutions, we have amazing resources for co-parenting!  Contact us for help.

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