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Parenting a teen along with your ex is … possible, at east in theory.
Here are 7 tips on how to handle situations that are going to come up.
1-Use of the car:
Teens like to drive. The car being used should not be used by one side to get the teen to spend more time there. If your child is borrowing your car then the cars stays at your house. If it a car give to your child, then it stays with your teen. That means even if one side bought the car, it should not be held at the house of the purchasing parent.
2-Phones, laptops, ipods and clothing:
Same as the car. Your teen should be able to move these freely between houses.
3-Tattoes, piercing and all other forms of body beautification/mutilation:
Kids do the strangest things. If possible you should have a set policy before anything comes up. When the inevitable happens an your child comes up with something you could never have anticipated, reserve permission until you discuss this with our ex.
4-Getting a job:
I am of the opinion that it is good for children to work to learn the value of money. However, not everyone shares my opinion. Establish a policy before the question comes up.
This should not be a battle ground. Consult each other before any decision is made.
It is quite likely that you will be running your households differently. You should recognize this while trying to minimize the differences when possible. Also, you should support your ex’s decision.
When your teen complains that at your house the curfew is at 12 but at your ex’s the curfew is at 11 pm, the wrong response is to say:
“What else would you expect from that jerk?”
A better response would be to say:
“Then when your are over there, you better be in by 11. If that’s too hard for you, then maybe we should make the curfew here 11, also.”
You’ll be amazed how fast your child will stop complaining about the differences.
7-Sex and substance abuse:
These things you absolutely must agree upon. You cannot have a different set of rules at each house.
I realize that I am setting the bar high. After all, if the two of you agreed on everything and were able to work it out when you differed, you probably never would have divorced. There may be some lingering negative feelings (or outright hatred) between the two of you.
You need to be mature about this. You can fight and argue in private all you want, but when you come out in front of your children you must be in agreement.
What you decide on these 7 issues is less important than agreeing on the same policy.
You should write down your decisions and each hold on to a copy of the agreement. That will minimize the possibility of disagreeing on what was agreed.
Parenting a teen is very hard. Co-parenting a teen is possible. Whether it is possible for you and your ex will depend largely upon if the too of you are willing to fore go your feelings for each other and work together for the benefit of your child.
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