Separation and Parenting Time Support When Raising a Teenager
Instructing parents going through separation or divorce while raising a teenager in Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey
Separation from a spouse can upend even the most together person. In addition to all of the legal considerations and steps that must be taken to finalize the divorce and fairly distribute marital assets, one must tend to their own emotional, physical, and mental health – all of which can be upended by such a stark transition.
This is simply the personal process; add children to the mix, and the process of divorce is an experience that can shift family dynamics, and not just for the better. When you are divorcing and there is a child involved, it is imperative that you keep their stability and wellbeing at the center of all consideration. When the child is a pre-teen or teen, there are additional hurdles to maintaining stability, especially emotional. Anyone who has or has ever been a teenager knows that drama is a byproduct. The following considerations will help you navigate separation from a spouse while strengthening your bond with your teenager.
Seek the support of a parenting counselor
Committing to seek the support of a New Jersey parenting counselor with your ex can make the road to stability for you both – and your teenager – a much smoother process. A parenting counselor is trained in developing systems and norms with separated parents that ground co-parenting in common goals, visions, and routines. The parenting counselor is not there to discuss why you separated, though they will be able to help facilitate discussions regarding differences of opinion about how to raise the child. A parenting counselor is there to offer practical support while keeping a child-centric, age-appropriate focus for the co-parenting planning.
Set up shared systems and routines
Having shared systems in place is key to a stable environment for a teen splitting time between parents. Shifts in hormones, as well as the drama and stress that today’s teens face, in addition to the divorce, make for trying atmosphere within and around them. Have as many grounded routines as possible in place in both homes, so your teen feels a sense of consistency and safety despite an inwardly turbulent experience. As part of your custody arrangement, you will develop a parenting time agreement with your former spouse. Be as detailed as possible about arrangements for co-parenting, and be willing to update it as you try it on and get a feel for what works – and what doesn’t work – for your teen and you both.
When common systems are in place, it makes it easier for you as a parent to check in with your teen about how their time with their other parent was, as you have a frame of reference and a sense of understanding of what your child’s day-to-day flow is like.
Communication is a key component
During the time following a divorce – and the entirety of a child’s teen years – communication can be the last thing you want to engage in. This time, however, is the most important time to be in open and compassionate communication with your ex and child. Remember that you and your ex are now partners in raising your child; as such, focus communication around how to make the process of co-parenting more smooth. Consider the relationship one of the colleagues, and brainstorm ways to make co-parenting more streamlined and your teen’s emotional, mental, and physical health more robust.
If communication with your ex is difficult because of a trying divorce, remember the principles of Nonviolent Communication:
- Use “I” statements, sharing how you feel (I feel calmed…)
- Be specific about behaviors or actions that you perceive to be helpful or unhelpful to your capacity to support your teen the most effective possible (…when I see you take initiative on scheduling transportation.)
- Open up and let your ex know how you would like to feel (I would like to feel this calm regarding weekend visits…
- Make specific and measurable requests (…could you please suggest one specific time on Saturday mornings for a drop off each week?)
Ultimately, your former spouse and you are on the same team. Regardless of what has caused the separation, remember that you can come together to ensure the wellbeing of your teen at this important time in their growth and development into a kind, capable young adult.
Seek advice from an experienced Brick NJ Divorce, Custody, Support, and Family Law Attorney today
At Peter J. Bronzino, our attorneys support clients across Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey in their custody arrangements and the development of parenting time agreements.