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Parenting Teens After Divorce, Step 1: Laying the Foundation

78430272Like any great relationship and house, you must lay down a solid foundation for your teen’s life after a divorce. The way you approach the divorce, and talk about the divorce lays the foundation for your teen’s post-divorce life. If the divorce is a heated battle, your teen’s life will be more akin to a WWII trench than, say, a mall or movie theater. While you might scoff at the idea of NOT having a heated divorce, making sure your child remains intact is nothing to even sniff at.

So how exactly do you lay the foundation for a strong life post-divorce, and foster stellar communication with your teen? In three easy, communication-based ways. There may only be three to discuss, but they require some explaining, so we’ll tackle them one at a time.

#1: Loose the poker face.

Most parents (divorced or not) fall prey to their fears of losing control of their teen, so the communication becomes very stiff and awkward. Parents want to have open, honest conversations with their teens, but cannot reciprocate the type of communication they are asking to receive.

We are not saying all parents consistently lie to their teens, but most parents cannot seem to share their feelings and thoughts with their teens. The reason, we suspect, is that parenthood is such new territory at every step of the way, parents cling to the authority role with their teens for dear life. Consequently, the parent misses out on candidly bonding with their teen out of fear of losing respect and control.

However, what parents are really doing by parenting with a poker face is distancing their teen. All children (no matter age) learn by example from their parents. So if you’re withholding and resistant to sharing information and feelings, so will your teen.

How to Lose the Poker Face

We know, nothing in life is easy, but here are a few pointers on improving the communication lines between you and your teen:

  • Firstly, when it comes to divorce, know what is and isn’t fair game to talk about. You can share that you are feeling hurt and/or angry, but you should emphasize the feelings about the divorce is ONLY between you and your ex-spouse.
  • Never bad-mouth your ex in front of your child.
  • Enter a conversation willing to listen and understand, not scold or become offended
  • Know and watch for signs of your teen being uncomfortable or shutting down. Once you spot these, its time to halt the conversation and take a breather. You can always pick it up later.

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