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Parenting Teens After Divorce, Step 2: Consistency

86540850Children are strange creatures that are made up of 50% you, 50% their other parent, and 100% themselves. They start out completely dependent on you for food, warmth, and comfort, and slowly begin moving farther and farther away. Then one day they magically turn into a teenager, on the cusp of autonomy but not quite there yet.

Teenagers may seem like an alien species, but parents just need to remember teenagers are still their children. Remember this throughout our discussion on parenting teens after divorce, because it will be your mental saving grace.

#2: You were, are, and will always be their parent.

Daddies and Mommies all over experience the day when their little angels no longer need them for survival. This day is seen as a blessing and curse because it means the parent can take a shower without worrying the child will find its own demise, but it also means the parent starts to question their role in the whole parent-child relationship.

Parents need to realize their role as parent will never change; it’s the parenting method that needs to change. For example, when your child was a toddler, parenting meant wiping their face and making sure they said please and thank you; now that your child is a teenager, parenting means guiding them to make good decisions and providing a stable environment.

Most people think a stable environment doesn’t really go in hand with a divorce, but can we please show you a few ways to make that a possibility?

How to Keep the Consistency

It’s true, divorce has a knack for uprooting a family. But ultimately it’s up to the parents to stabilize the family and structure the new family landscape. Divorce may physically change the family landscape, but the parents can level the ground so the children have a place to stand. Here’s how:

  • The rules your teen used to abide by during the marriage should be the rules your teen abides by after the marriage. Because your teen is a boundary tester (just like when they were in their terrible twos), it is your job to make them toe the line, because you are the parent. Married, divorced, separated, single, dating, alone and loving it, you are the parent.

  • Emphasize that the divorce doesn’t mean your teen no longer has parents. Mom and dad ended their marriage, but it doesn’t mean their parenting years are over. Parents aren’t just married people, they are people with children. Your teen may not have this straight in their head, but staying consistent with your parenting will clear that up.

  • Here is the best advice for the parents who feel guilty about putting their child through a divorce: The divorce was between you and your spouse, and the divorce can remain between you and your spouse as long as you maintain your role as parent.

Have you noticed the theme here? You are and will always be the parent. Just because you are divorced doesn’t make you any less of a parent or any less of an authority figure.

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