While divorcing when you have young children can be challenging, so can ending a marriage when you have teenagers. While teens are better able to understand a parental break-up than younger kids, that doesn’t make things easier for them.
Some parents make the mistake of sharing too much about the reasons for the break-up with their teens. They aren’t your best friend or your therapist. Save the details and the criticism of your spouse for other adults.
Kids of all ages need consistency amid divorce. The teen years are challenging enough without not knowing which parent you’ll be staying with on any given night or having to deal with two different sets of rules and expectations depending on which house you’re in.
Divorcing parents of teens need to make sure that their kids feel they belong in both of their homes. It’s best for children of all ages if they can count on some of their belongings being in both places so that they have only a minimum amount of packing and unpacking when they move from one to the other.
Teens value their privacy and their own space. Even if you moved out of the family home into an apartment, it’s important to have a room there that your teen can call their own.
Teens are notorious for testing parental boundaries. When parents are in the middle of a divorce and not feeling fondly towards one another, it can be tempting for a teen to play one against the other. The best thing that co-parents can do is agree on a basic set of rules and expectations across both households. The consistency will give your teen a sense of security.
Your teens shouldn’t determine your custody and visitation schedule or be asked to choose between parents. However, you can at least seek their input on where they want to spend most of their time and what kind of parenting time schedule works best with their school and extracurricular activities.
No matter how well you think your teen is adjusting to the divorce, both you and your co-parent should be on the lookout for signs of trouble. These often include falling grades, skipping extracurricular obligations and behavioral issues.
If you believe that some modifications to your custody and visitation agreement would be best for your teen, you and your attorney can work to seek those changes.