A divorce is not something that couples ever plan will happen to them as they begin their life together and start a family. However, in America, the average divorce rate ranges from 40-50 percent, according to the American Psychological Association. This means that many families with teenagers are divided by divorce, and parents must learn how to successfully raise and parent their teens from separate households after their marriage dissolves.
Teenagers who have a happy home life are much less likely to experience mental, emotional, or social issues. It is very important that a teen feels loved and supported at home and witnesses their parents experiencing a successful relationship, regardless of whether their parents are married or not. For this reason, it is imperative your co-parenting be done in a way that supports your teen and reinforces a strong sense of family, love, and values. In fact, according to research published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, successful co-parenting is beneficial to the emotional development and health of teens. Additionally, research has shown that it is not only an absence of conflict that makes co-parenting succeed, but also an increase in communication and collaboration from both parents.
Here are five ways you can successfully co-parent your teen, while upholding family support and values:
- Create goals, stick to them. Work together to support your teenager with respect, devotion, and intention.
Focus on the Family suggests that co-parents set aside their conflicts and differences, and work together to create goals centered on their teen. In many cases, working together with your ex might seem extremely disagreeable. However, remember that you are putting forth a united effort as parents, regardless of your personal relationship with one another. If you find you are struggling to agree, try setting up a monthly meeting that you conduct as adults in a professional manner. Treating the time together as work can help you reduce emotions, and get more accomplished together for the benefit of your teen.
- When you refer to your ex and co-parent, always speak of them positively and remind your teen of their great traits and accomplishments.
According to information published in the Huffington Post, one of the markers of success in a co-parenting relationship is to always ensure that you speak positively about your ex when you speak to your teen. You should think about the qualities that make them special, and always celebrate successes and accomplishments. A teen who witnesses such support and positivity will have a stronger basis for managing their own conflicts and relationships in the future as well.
- Make sure your teen has everything they need in both homes, and never ask them to report or tattle on your ex and co-parent.
A divided household can be very difficult for a teen, particularly if they don’t have the things they need in one home or the other. This can cause your teen to feel uncomfortable and cause them to favor one home over the other. As your teen goes back and forth between homes, it is also very important that you don’t give them any unnecessary emotional baggage or responsibility to carry with them, such as asking them probing questions about their other parent’s personal life, or asking them to tattle.
- Keep your scheduled commitments, but show one another flexibility and collaboration if changes need to be made.
Do your very best to keep to all your scheduled commitments. This makes you a great co-parent, and also helps your teen develop a reliable schedule and have parents they know that they can count on.
- Take care of yourself and dedicate your growth toward being an amazing co-parent.
The end of a marriage can be very emotionally taxing for you, and in order to be the best co-parent you can for your teen, you need to make sure you take care of yourself. Be patient and loving toward yourself as you work through the hurt and heal.
If your teen is struggling emotionally due to a recent divorce, or you and your ex are having difficulty determining the best way to co-parent and support your teen, then speaking to a trained counselor who specializes in such situations can help you make sure that your teen is getting everything they need to thrive in a changing environment.