Parenting troubled teens are difficult at the best of times. When families are going through a divorce, everything becomes more challenging. Developing and following a co-parenting plan can help you and your Ex to be better parents to your teen. You and your Ex both have the same goal–raising your teen to be a responsible, capable, and emotionally healthy adult. The best way for you to do that is to work together.
If at all possible, develop a co-parenting plan with your Ex. A co-parenting plan is an agreement about how you and your Ex will raise your teen. The plan describes how you both will make big and small decisions about your teen’s life. It arranges a schedule that you are both expected to follow. Perhaps most importantly, your co-parenting plan defines a set of rules for both you and your Ex to follow. If your teen is mature enough, you can involve him or her in the creation of the plan. Creating and following a co-parenting plan is the best way to give your teen a consistent home environment.
Teens thrive on consistency. Living in two different households with two different sets of rules will be a challenge for a teen. The greater the difference between your household and your Ex’s, the more difficult it will be for your teen to adjust. Moreover, it is likely to give your teen the opportunity to challenge you.
Don’t Get Played
After parents separate or divorce, many teens experience behavioral problems. For example, it is very common for teens to try to play one parent off of the other. Your teen might make arguments like, “But dad would let me stay up as late as I want.” or “Mom would let me go to the concert.” Even if you and your Ex have not been able to develop (or abide by) a co-parenting plan, do not give in to this tactic. Let your teen know that your rules apply in your house. Your Ex’s rules apply in their house. Be consistent about the things that are within your control.
Also, keep in mind that it is alright to ask for help. Counselors and co-parenting coaches can provide you and your Ex with strategies you need to co-parent successfully.
If you and your teen need additional help, consider a therapeutic boarding school. The support, structure, and consistency that therapeutic boarding schools provide can help your teen. Attending a therapeutic boarding school will also take your teen away from the immediate conflict.
When teens experience a divorce, they can often blame themselves. It is important to let your teen know that he or she is not at fault. Do your best to help your teen see that going to a therapeutic boarding school is not a punishment.