Month: May 2014

Parenting Teens After A Divorce


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.

Advocating for Yourself

IMPossibleMediation is facilitated negotiation. That means each person is advocating for his or her own needs with the assistance of the mediator. Mediation can be an opportunity to learn skills, such as negotiation, that can be helpful for years to come. So how do you advocate for yourself in a negotiation? Here are some tips to get you started:

*Identify your needs–Needs are different from interests and desires. We all wish that certain things will go our way. A desire is to keep your house. A need is a place to live. Knowing what we need is a bottom line and helps to define the least that is acceptable.

*Think creatively–It can be hard not to focus on the outcome when you are negotiating, but if you can shift your thinking to your interests and the needs you are trying to meet, you might be able to come up with more creative solutions. For example, if keeping a house is the goal, think about why. If it’s to maintain stability for the children during the transition of divorce, maybe you could own it jointly for a year or two and then sell. If it’s because you love the house, maybe a family member can co-sign the new mortgage in exchange for 10% of the equity in the future. Brainstorm!

*Be informed–Gathering all the information needed before making decisions can thwart irrational decision-making. Having an initial consultation with a matrimonial attorney who supports mediation (your mediator can provide you with names and numbers), for example, can help you to know the best and worst outcomes if you were to litigate. You can use this information to determine for yourself if what you’re agreeing to is fair.

*Recognize your spouse’s needs–You might not agree with him or her, but he or she has needs and interests of their own. If you offer something that she or he needs or wants, it’s likely that she or he will be more willing to negotiate in return.

To learn more about negotiating, check out these resources:

Harvard Program on Negotiation

Skills You Need