Nobody ever claimed that parenting was easy. Co-parenting is even tougher because it requires a whole different level of acceptance and respecting boundaries; yours, your co-parent’s and most importantly, your child’s. And co-parenting teens? Co-parenting teens is not personal but it is challenging. Here are some tips to help you listen to your teens from a place of good intention.
Co-parenting often requires you to check your ego at the door and actually listen to what your teen is saying they want or need.
Teens Have A Voice
In my practice, I often hear clients tell me, “I asked my 5 year old and they don’t want to go to their dad’s/mom’s for the weekend”. Generally speaking, a child of 5 years old should be following the parenting schedule as much as possible in order to establish consistency, stability and to allow the young child to form a bond with both parents.
Teens require a specific set of coparenting rules, that go beyond earlier coparenting tips found here https://reconstructinghappy.com/3-dos-and-donts-of-co-parenting/
As the children grow older, parenting time shifts from being about quantity, to quality. This happens whether the parents are divorced or not. I spend less time with my teens as they grow because this is the very nature of growing up. Their friends become increasingly important to them and part of asserting themselves as young, independent adults, is time away from mom and dad.
Children have other obligations as they grow; perhaps they have a part time job, they have school commitments such as homework (we hope), extra curricular activities and of course, their booming social life (once again, we hope).
The Teen’s Rite of Passage
Teenagehood isn’t the time to spend vast amounts of time with one’s parents but when you’re a divorced parent, you may long for more time with your teen because of their division of homes. This isn’t something that should be placed on your teen. This is YOUR reality to come to terms with and not theirs. Change and evolution is natural and normal and ought to be welcomed. As divorced parents, it’s important to remember that your teen isn’t likely to pull away from you in preference of their other parent, but quite often, it’s simply a rite of passage and a normal transition.
Talking To Your Teen
If you need some support on how to talk to your teen, click here for some helpful tips. https://www.parentingforbrain.com/how-to-make-your-teenager-listen/
When our kids come to us and ask to spend time with their other parent, irrespective of the carefully laid out parenting plan, I urge you to listen to their reason without getting defensive or hurt. It’s important for our teens to feel like they have a say and they have a choice. It often isn’t about you, but rather, it’s about what they want, for some reason or another. Perhaps they have a party on the weekend and it’s closer to the other parent’s home. There could be a million reasons that actually have nothing to do with divorce or their relationship with either parent. Ask them why. And most importantly, remember that it’s not personal.
So how do you spend time with teens when they seem more interested in everything and everyone else? That’s for my next blog. Stay tuned…