Going through a divorce is a unique challenge unlike much of anything else — and so is raising a teenager. Combine the two together, and you might feel as if you are facing an impossible situation. However, it might be easier than you think to successfully co-parent your teenager after divorce.
If you want to create a good co-parenting relationship with your ex, it is important for you to both understand just how tumultuous the teen years are. Your teen may deal with behavioral changes, mood swings and more on his or her path toward adulthood. These are normal for this age group, and understanding what is to come will be helpful on this journey.
Keep communication going
Chances are you did not decide to divorce because you and your ex communicated well. The idea of maintaining open lines of communication after divorce can seem like a foreign idea, but doing so is often key to a healthy co-parenting relationship. This does not mean passing along messages through your child, either. Instead, agree on how and when you will keep one another informed on important matters.
One of the reasons this is so important is because your teen will not necessarily share important information with you. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that, since your teen is older and more responsible, he or she will tell you about anything necessary. However, your teen could be exhibiting certain behaviors with your ex but not with you, and if the two of you are not talking, you will never know.
Be consistent but flexible
Just because your teenager is more responsible does not mean that he or she does not need consistency anymore. There is a difference between being consistent and being too rigid, though. Since your teen probably has a lot going on right now, it is helpful to be flexible when it comes to matters such as his or her:
- Social obligations
- Extracurricular activities
- Part-time job
Consistency comes from more than just your parenting schedule. Your teen still needs consistent expectations and guidance, which can be difficult if you and your ex are not on the same page. You do not have to parent the exact same way as your ex, but it is a good idea to establish similar approaches to important issues.
Your child still needs you
The teenage years are already tumultuous as it is. Add in parents divorcing and things can get a lot more difficult. This is the time to make sure that you are there and available for your child.
One of the best ways to prioritize your teen is by prioritizing your child custody agreement. If you are hoping to co-parent your teenager, you should be prepared to work closely with your ex to create an agreement that works best for everyone involved. However, like all custody agreements in Florida, it should still focus on your child’s best interests.