What You Need to Know About Co-Parenting Teenagers
Parenting a teenager is challenging enough, but when you share parenting responsibilities with your ex-spouse, this daunting task inevitably becomes a bit trickier. Co-parenting can be difficult at times, especially if you and the other parent do not see eye to eye. Thankfully, if you both have your child’s best interest at heart, it is possible to find a workable parenting arrangement that prioritizes your teenager’s needs.
Read below for a few key tips about co-parenting teenagers:
1. Consider What You’re Up Against
When raising a teenager, you have quite a few new factors to consider. It isn’t just about what to feed your child and where to send them to preschool; older children require different considerations, such as when they’ll be allowed to drive, how late they can stay out with friends, when they can date, and so on. Be realistic about these things and think about what you’d like to do about each issue before you discuss it with your co-parent. If you go into your parenting discussions with thought-out ideas, concerns, and suggestions, you’ll be more likely to make an effective parenting plan.
2. Does Your Parenting Plan Address Issues for Teens?
For many parents, your children may have been younger when you first created your parenting plan. You may want to consider discussing a parenting plan modification to adjust the terms of your parenting plan with your attorney to include new terms specific to older children. Putting these changes into your legal parenting plan agreement can help ensure that both parents follow any new terms that you wish to implement.
3. Prioritize Your Central Concerns
Once you’ve identified all of the issues you’ll need to cover as parents of a teen, you should consider where your priorities lie. You and your co-parent will both need to compromise when you discuss your new parenting plan, so think about what’s most important to you. Is seeing your child home by 10 PM each night a huge priority? Do you have plans lined up to purchase your child’s first car? Who pays for things like college prep exams and applications? Whatever it is, choose a few rules/decisions that mean the most to you, and be prepared to compromise with your co-parent on the rest. Ideally, you’ll both be able to reach a middle ground you can be happy with.
4. Get on the Same Page
Even though you and the other parent are not together, that doesn’t mean you can’t still work as a team to parent your teenager. In an ideal situation, the two of you will share your opinions about how you’d like your child raised, you’ll negotiate until you create a plan, and you’ll both uphold those decisions in each of your households. Consistency is key with any child, even a teenager. If one parent allows the child to stay out until 11 PM, and the other sets a 9 PM curfew, that’s sure to create some confusion, and potentially some friction. Instead, try to get on the same page so that your teen doesn’t have to waffle back and forth between two sets of household rules. If you do not agree, you can work with your family law attorney on options to modify your parenting plan to address these issues.
5. Communicate with Your Teen
Communicating with your co-parent is important, of course, but so is communicating with your child. As your child grows into a young adult, they’ll need your support, guidance, and love. Support their development by talking to them openly, regularly, and non-judgmentally. This will encourage them to come to you with any concerns, frustrations, confusion, or questions. Even if they just want to vent to you about their day at school, communication about little things means they’re more likely to come to you with big concerns. And, the more you communicate with your teen, the easier it will be to maintain a healthy, respectful relationship where they understand the rules you’ve established as a parent.
For more help with your co-parenting concerns, reach out to our experienced attorneys at McKinley Irvin. Our lawyers are among the region’s top divorce and family law attorneys, and we’re committed to helping each and every one of our clients find a workable solution for their situation. Contact McKinley Irvin today to schedule a consultation.