Guest Author - Caroline Henrich
Some of your friends probably smile at you with a sympathetic expression when they hear you have a teenage child. If they have adult children, they probably remember the emotional mood swings and the pouting. They will remind you that you will survive this time period and even smile about it later in life. That is also what they say about labor.
All joking aside, it is very important for parents to be involved in the lives of their teenagers. They will be exposed to new experiences and new temptations. Some of these temptations involve dangerous activities such as alcohol and drug use and sexual activity. Raising teenagers involves patience, communication and consistency.
For divorced parents this time in your child's life can involve additional challenges. It is possible that your ex-spouse may have different thoughts and opinions on how to deal with a teenager. Differences in opinions probably also occur between married couples, but if you have endured a difficult divorce, your may not be willing or able to cooperate.
However, it is important to make your best effort to work with your ex-spouse when addressing your teenager's issues. If however you cannot, it is important to focus on your child. Talk with your child in a calm tone and acknowledge his/her feelings and thoughts. Let him/her know that he/she can talk to you about anything and you will accept them. Support victories and caution them against dangerous behaviors.
If your child exhibits animosity about the divorce that you did not previously see, do not become angry and upset. Be as honest as you can but still understand that boundaries should exist. If they still are experiencing anger or engaging in dangerous activities seek professional help. This could involve a therapist or even a trusted school advisor.
Know your child's friends and make sure they share your child's positive values and goals. Lean on your friends and others for support when you feel you are at the end of the rope. As other parents of teenagers before you, I am sure you too will smile about this time in the future and remember it fondly.