Written by Audrey Silcox
The word teenager creates a mental picture in itself for most parents. When a child reaches the magical teenage years, this can become a time of fun, creating self-identity and transitioning to become more independent. This transitioning can be described as becoming an independent person yet making sure that parents are at arm’s reach for needed security.
When parents announce that they are divorcing during teen years, which is already filled with many personal changes, many reactions can occur. Custody and co-parenting of a teen can yield many hurdles as changes independently of the divorce are already prevalent.
Three suggestions that a parent may consider for teenage survival and divorce:
- Encourage your teen to voice his concerns. This will encourage open communication between the parent and teen. During the teen years even when divorce is not an issue, many turn to their peers for advice and companionship rather than family members. Connecting through communication is desirable for both parents. Give your teen verbal permission to address concerns about the divorce and questions that he may have. Just remember to keep your attitude in check as the questions or concerns may be something that you as a parent may be creating and is difficult for your teen. Keep an open mind and communicate wisely.
- Discussing concerns does not equate fixing every concern that your teen has to address. Do not assume the responsibility for making everything acceptable for your teen. This would be an impossible job whether married or divorced. Make sure your teen understands that you care, you are willing to work to meet their concerns within reason, but you cannot ensure total satisfaction. Do not feel guilty if you cannot meet every need. The main goal is to communicate and make life less stressful for your teen by addressing his concerns and accommodating needs in areas that you can.
- Parenting skills may become diminished during and after the divorce process. This may be due to increased stress and parents may be willing to allow behavior that in the past was not acceptable. Parenting skills may also be diminished due to fear of the unknown. Parents may worry about placing increased restraints on the teen, as he or she may be resentful and or choose the other parent. It is wise to keep boundaries in place, especially during the teen years. It is wise to keep the expectations before the divorce the same if not higher after the divorce and would be helpful if expectations were the same between both households. Parenting skills must remain high as your teen is observing to see if you are noticing their behavior or if you are preoccupied due to your own stress. Allow your parenting skills to also include friendship with your teen. This is a time that can be some of the most enjoyable years as he is old enough to participate in activities that he could not before and can engage in meaningful conversation and friendship.
Parenting teens can be a challenging time and even more so when coupled with divorce. Divorce Tool Box online sessions offers guidance with divorce, maturation of children and co-parenting tips. Let us help you today by visiting our website at www.divorcetoolbox.com.