Going through a divorce is hard, and so is raising a teenager. Combine the two together, and you are facing an exceptionally difficult period in life. How you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse approach your co-parenting relationship could make things a whole lot easier.
If you want to build a great co-parenting relationship, you will need to be committed to an open and ongoing exchange. Yes, that means regularly communicating with your ex. Consider these other ways to make co-parenting work for you.
Kids are notorious for needing consistency in their daily lives, and to a certain extent, teens are no different. You and your teen’s other parent should continue to provide consistent guidelines and home lives so that he or she always knows what the expectations are. But there are also valid reasons to be flexible sometimes.
Have you looked at your teen’s schedule lately? School might be his or her biggest obligation, but what about friends, extracurriculars or a part-time job? These commitments do not always align with your parenting schedule, and now is not the time to dig your heels into the ground and insist that you follow it to the letter. Switching up days as needed will help your teen keep his or her commitments while also teaching responsibility.
Remember your teen is still a kid
Teenagers are on the fast path toward adulthood. This means that they are learning more and more every day, including what it takes to be a responsible adult. Unfortunately, teenagers do not necessarily have the best decision-making abilities. It is not uncommon for teens to hold back important information from their parents, and you should not expect your situation to be any different.
For example, if your teen brings up an issue at school or displays worrying behavior, do not assume that his or her other parent knows. It is possible that your ex has no idea about what is going on. If that is the case, then he or she cannot take necessary behavior to help your teen address the problem.
It is one thing to communicate about your child’s expectations or problems. It is another to regularly coordinate about how your child is getting around. Whether he or she is old enough to drive or still relies on you, giving your teen too much freedom on this front can have unintended consequences — especially if you are not communicating.
A great co-parenting relationship does not just develop out of thin air. Parents who are committed to making this arrangement work usually pay careful attention to their custody agreements during divorce. We understand just how important your child is to you, so you should be sure to seek out knowledgeable representation as soon as possible.