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Communicating about co-parenting your teen: Part I

Co-parenting with a former spouse or partner can be a frustrating task. It can be even more so when the child that you co-parent is a teenager, trying to find his or her own way and pushing every button in the book during the process.

Regardless of what your child custody and visitation arrangements look like, it is extremely beneficial to make sure that you and your teen's other parent are on the same page regarding several issues. This proactive communication will allow more consistency and (hopefully) more peace for all members of both households, your teen included.

First, it is important to understand that teens have a very particular kind of attachment to their possessions. They often derive senses of security, comfort and even identity from certain objects. Communication and media devices such as cell phones, iPods and laptops may be particularly important to teens, who tend to crave both social outlets and forms of expression. Articles of clothing may also bear special significance.

As a result, it is important that teens be allowed to transfer these kinds of personal items back and forth between houses, or keep them in a particular place, as they see fit. This policy will allow your teen to maintain a sense of security, ownership and control over his or her belongings. If you must address the other parent regarding an issue involving a personal item, do it out of your teen's earshot.

Next, consider and proactively communicate about policies regarding your child's potential desires for piercings, tattoos, hair coloring, etc. Teens often want to express themselves in unique ways. It is important to make sure that both parents are on the same page regarding these issues, in order to avoid conflict overall.

Check back in later this week, as we discuss more proactive solutions for co-parenting your teenager.

Source: Huffington Post, "7 Tips For Co-parenting Teens," Tara Fass, Feb. 21, 2012

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