Three Tips for Co Parenting Teens and Pre-Teens
Raising teens and pre-teens is challenging in many ways. They often speak their minds, crave independence, and test their parents' patience. They also often deal with a constant wave of emotions brought on by changing hormones and the different things going on in their everyday lives. For co parents, raising teens and pre-teens may be tricky, but with the right strategies, co parents can get themselves and their young adults through these formidable years successfully. Consider these tips for co parenting teens and pre-teens.
Know What's Going On
Teens and pre-teens really do have a lot going on in their lives, whether or not they feel like talking about it. While some resistance is to be expected, there are things that co parents can do to help encourage their teens and pre-teens to talk to them. In each of your homes, try and have regular meals with your teens. Meal time is a perfect opportunity to go around the table and talk about what happened in each of your days. Beyond having regular breakfasts or dinners together, co parents should each have some one-on-one time with each of their teens or pre-teens. Maybe it's a weekly coffee outing, trip to the mall, or a walk around your neighborhood park. If you can't physically be there one day with your teen or pre-teen, give them a call or chat online for a little while.
Find a Balance in Independence
Teens and pre-teens are likely to be craving independence, but their age and maturity level should inform co parents about how much independence their young adults are each ready to have. Agree to maintain a balance in the amount of independence that you and your co parent give to your teens and pre-teens. While your parenting styles and certain rules might vary between your homes, being consistent in the amount of independence that you give your teens will help them not to rebel so much in either of your homes. Also, try and settle on a consistent way of disciplining your teens. This will help them know what is expected of them in order to get the same about of independence that they desire in both homes.
Show Your Support
The emotions surging through teens and pre-teens can stir up all sorts of feelings, and dealing with their parents' divorce on top of their own emotions can make things even more complicated. As co parents, show your support to your young adults. Remind them how much they love them and that you're always there for them no matter what. Be there when they want to talk, and give them a little space if that's what they need sometimes. Communicate with your co parent about what you notice in your teens and pre-teens, both things that make you feel proud and other things that concern you. Work together as a team to raise your teens as best you can together. Showing your teens that you and your co parent can still be a team in parenting even after divorce is a positive lesson for them to observe in you.
The teen and pre-teen years are trying enough without letting co parenting make them any more complicated. Know what's going on in your teens' lives, and find a balance between independence and limitations for them. Finally, always show your support to your teens and pre-teens, and be positive role models for how two people can work together even after going through a change like divorce.