Raising a teen can be a stressful experience for any parent.
Dealing with teens can be especially complicated when co-parenting them with an ex-spouse.
Both parents are dealing with separate households and potentially new relationships. Now, along comes a teenager seeking their own independence. Where before they adoringly followed along with the parent’s instructions and guidance—they’re now constantly questioning and challenging the authority of both parents.
Divorced parents along with all other parents deal with similar teenager issues:
- Asserting independence
- Being argumentative
- Peer pressure
- Communication challenges
- Potential experimentation with sex, drugs, and alcohol
When raising a teen, it’s best that both parents be on the same page with dealing with these and other adolescent issues. That requires clear communication between both parents, which can be challenging for divorced parents.
Regardless of the age of the child, divorced parents need to negotiate a parenting agreement that puts their children first. If you’re in a dispute with an ex-spouse regarding parental responsibilities, a court order might be necessary to resolve the issue. If that’s the case, we might be able to help you.
If you’d like to explore your legal options, call us for a free consultation at (904) 567-3113.
Let’s Define the Role of a Parent
In Florida, the role of a parent means that a person or persons have the right and responsibility to make major decisions affecting the welfare of a child.
In the case of divorce, “shared parental responsibilities” or “sole parental responsibility” arrangements might be ordered by the court depending on the best interest of the child.
It’s been our experience that it’s usually best for the wellbeing of the child when both parents can work together to discuss and make major parenting decisions.
Co-Parenting Best Practices
In an earlier article on the art of co-parenting, we shared the following best practices on healthy co-parenting.
- Make sure both parents communicate directly with each other
- Don’t use the children as a messenger
- Keep your co-parent updated on your plans for the child (trips, holidays, etc.)
- Be respectful of each other’s views and agree to discuss what’s best for the child
- Don’t disparage the other parent in front of the child
- Meet all support obligations in a timely manner
- Don’t force children to choose a side in conflicts between parents
Probably the most important co-parenting advice is to actively encourage your child to maintain a relationship with the other parent. Children deserve to know it is okay to have quality time with each parent.
Best Practices of Co-Parenting a Teenager
Following the above best practices can make life a bit easier for divorced parents when raising any child. However, dealing with a teen can be hard work, full of challenges, setbacks and quite a bit of worrying.
It’s a good idea for both parents (as well as stepparents if they’re in the picture) to come together with a “raising a teen” game plan that details roles and responsibilities of all parties. Consistency in all households can be a huge advantage when dealing with adolescent issues.
Roles and Responsibilities
Make sure each parent is aware of their role and responsibilities to the teen. This would include determining who would be responsible for activities that would include:
- That sex, drug, and alcohol talk: In some cases, a gender-specific parent might be an advantage on these matters
- Driving lessons: Who will be the main parent to provide driving lessons
Both parents should agree on clear and firm boundaries for the teen. This may include:
- Phone usage
- Television privileges
Both parents should work together to set, impose and follow through with consequences to hold the teen accountable for their actions and behavior.
In this day and age, addiction has become a major issue for adolescents. Access to drugs and alcohol is rampant and peer pressure can be challenging for teens to resist.
Every parent should have a game plan in place regarding the threat of addiction. That includes:
- Monitoring for signs of addiction: Become knowledgeable about typical physical, mental, and emotional behaviors that could be signs of an addiction
- Abrupt changes in friendships and social circles
In cases of addictions, early intervention is vitally important for recovery. This is another example where co-parents, working together, can be a huge advantage when dealing with adolescent children.
Teens are all about exploring their independence. This is part of the maturating process and should be encouraged by parents. This may include:
- Listening without judgment
- Supporting them through mistakes and challenges
- Actively encouraging hobbies, interests, and activities
- Acknowledging achievements
Regardless if they’re dealing with one household or a couple, parents of teens should work together to help their children feel safe, supported, and secure. This will provide teens with a solid foundation to deter the influence of peer pressure and frustrations of life challenges
It’s Okay to Reach Out for Help
Co-parenting can be challenging regardless of the age of the child. Consider family therapy as a way to resolve conflicts when it comes to co-parenting a child.
If you’re in need of legal advice, don’t hesitate to contact a Family Law Attorney. We’re always available to answer any questions regarding your rights as a parent and guide you through the divorce process or child custody issues. Give our office a call at (904) 567-3113.