Parenting teenagers is a different ball game. You may feel as though you are talking to a wall who occasionally replies in “bruh” or some intense eye-rolling. Teenagers have a mind of their own, and they aren’t typically shy about letting you know exactly what they are feeling. Divorce or parental separation can be especially tough on a teenager who is already grappling with the stress of high school, college planning, and increasing social group complexities. Co-parenting a teenager may seem like an impossible feat, but there are some really simple things you can implement with the other parent to make this challenging time a bit easier.
Keep Open Communication
Your teen may be struggling with a split more than you realize. Make sure you speak with them in an age-appropriate manner regarding what is going on between you and the other parent. Let them know that you and the other parent are there to help support them and are open to hearing their feelings without judgment. When they come to you, listen. Only offer advice when it comes to your split if they ask. Allowing them to vent and speak their mind about their feelings is a way to establish trust and security.
Schedule “Team Meetings”
You and the other parent need to be a united front when it comes to things like boundaries and discipline with your teen. Schedule a monthly or bi-monthly meeting in which you talk about your child, how you would like to handle situations that arise, and keep things consistent between each other’s house. It is common and normal to disagree on how to handle a particular issue. If it is a significant issue, it may be worth returning to mediation for a session to work through things. You and the other parent may not make a great couple, but you can be an excellent team!
Share a Calendar
Your teen may have a lot of activities going on in their life: school activities, sports, and other extracurriculars can make pick-ups and drop-offs a challenge when you are co-parenting. Create a shared Google calendar (or another service) between you, your teen, and the other parent. Urge the child to post their schedule within the calendar so everyone is on the same page. This will clear any confusion that could occur on when, who, and where to pick up or if your teen is driving, and where they are located during a particular time.
For more help with co-parenting, contact West Coast Family Mediation Center to schedule your free virtual consultation with one of our mediators!