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Parenting Teens After A Divorce

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Teens are a tricky age group. They are by nature pushing boundaries and wanting autonomy and freedom. Finding the right balance of setting limits and giving them responsibility for themselves is tricky in general, and that can be compounded with the added pressures of co-parenting from two different households.

Although they may not express it, divorce can have a de-stabilizing effect on older children and young adults. Teens need to understand that the relationship between you and your spouse is the only one that has changed, and that each of you continues to have the same relationship with them as their parent.

The more both parents can work towards creating the same expectations for the children in each household, the better. Sometimes, due to different parenting styles, the need for both parents to work full time, the amount of conflict between the parents, or other reasons, there can be very different rules in the two households.

In that situation, parents should strive to work together to instill in the children respect for the rules of each household. The more parents support this, the more the children will feel compelled to follow them. Don’t try to gain your child’s favor by commiserating with them about things they don’t like at the other parent’s house. Helping them to think through situations that challenge them, and encouraging them to talk over with their other parent any issues they have, will show them that you care, help them feel heard and work toward actually solving their problem.

When teenagers understand clearly stated rules that each parent expects them to follow, the less license they will have to ignore or circumvent them, and the more secure and grounded they will feel. Teens need to know that their parents are paying attention to where they are and what they are doing. As annoyed as they may act, they know it means you care.

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