Tips for Mediating When You Have Teenagers
Mediating issues of child custody when you have teenagers is a much different prospect than mediating issues of child custody for younger children. Teenagers are getting closer to adulthood, are more independent thinkers and are likely to have their own strong opinions—as well as very different needs than younger siblings.
Here are a few issues you should focus on when negotiating child custody arrangements for teenagers.
- Consistency with scheduling: Teenagers have busy live and social calendars, and may have their own jobs they need to get to. It is critical for them to have a schedule they can rely on and plan around. Both parents must stick to that schedule as much as possible.
- Handling transfer: Focus on creating transfer processes that minimize conflict. Determine where transfers will occur, who will be present and how you will handle transportation. If you and your ex know you will not be able to be in each other’s presence and act civilly toward each other, you must work around those issues to avoid blow-ups in front of the child. Your teenager has plenty of problems of their own to worry about without being stuck in between you and your ex.
- Possible counseling: Teenagers may have a difficult time adjusting to their parents’ divorce. They might blame themselves, or feel like they’re stuck in the middle of the conflict. Watch for behaviors that suggest depression, risky activity, withdrawal or other personality changes, and keep an eye on their grades and friendships. Some teenagers may benefit from counseling or therapy to help them get through their parents’ divorce.
- Boundaries: Respect the boundaries that exist between parents and children, especially when they are in their teenage years. You are not your child’s friend, and while it is important for them to know you are there for them and that they can rely on you, it is also important to make sure there are still healthy boundaries that exist so you can give them the structure and discipline they need to thrive, even as they seek greater independence.
For more tips about navigating divorce mediation when you have teenagers, contact an experienced Long Island attorney at Solutions Divorce Mediation.