Earlier this week, we began a discussion about co-parenting teenagers. Proactive communication with your teen's other parent can help lessen conflict between dual households, whatever your child custody and visitation arrangements might be.
One issue that it is important to be in communication about is what responsibilities and routines your teenager has in each household. For example, let's say that one household insists that the teen completes all homework before being allowed out with friends and one household allows him or her to complete homework whenever it is convenient.
Neither of these policies is necessarily right or wrong. However, if the reasons for these policies are not communicated to both parents and the teen, conflict and confusion over expectations can arise.
Another potential source of conflict which can be greatly diffused by communication involves transportation. Teen drivers are at a higher risk of vehicle accidents due to their inexperience. Thus, it is very important for both parents to communicate their expectations for the "what, when, who, where" questions regarding teen transportation.
It is not necessary for parents to agree on everything or for both houses to function in the same ways. What is important is that the teen knows what to expect and that tension and conflict between parents is kept to a minimum for everyone's benefit.
It is critical that parents not bribe or otherwise unfairly influence their teens in the hopes that they will stay with them more often or take their "side" against the other parent. When it comes to issues of routine, self-expression, transportation, etc., the goals should be the best interest of the teen and the peaceful functioning of both households. It should go without saying, but sometimes it bears repeating: co-parenting a teenager is not a popularity contest.
Source: Huffington Post, "7 Tips For Co-parenting Teens," Tara Fass, Feb. 21, 2012