Divorce is difficult on so many levels. It can turn every part of your life upside down, especially when it comes to your family. And as you juggle a lawyer, a career, and receiving insults via text from your soon to be ex, you have to think about managing your kids.
Being there for your kids is important because they’re going through this rough time as well. And if you’re raising a teen, there is a good chance they’re being dramatic, balking at the rules of “parent time” and wanting to grip any type of control they can of the situation.
I’m sure there are days you want to quit life and drive away. It’s so easy and very tempting to want to give up on your teen, even in the best of times. And if your teen finds himself in trouble with drugs, alcohol, sex, and destructive friends, you’re usually in for quite a ride. This can add to the stress. But remember, at that point it is easy to get sucked in the negativity and mistrust between parent and teen which is damaging to the relationship.
So if the relationship between you and your teen feels like it’s beyond repair, try these 10 steps and let us know how it works out.
Step 1: Ask questions to stay involved.
Asking a sincere question means you care and you want to know more about your teen. They’ll feel this and be happy to have your attention. When asking questions it usually leads into deeper insight about your teen which can get to the root of a problem you might be having.
Step 2: Be more of an ear than a mouth.
Yes. Be more of an ear than a mouth. This means it’s a good idea to do more listening and understanding than talking. Some parents fall into the trap of lecturing too much and reacting too quick. This leads to a lack of perspective on the parents end while they should see their teenager’s point of view as well.
Step 3: Create a routine you and your teen look forward to.
If you and your teen don’t spend enough time having fun together, a new routine might help. Some ideas are, game nights, a trip once a month, dinner together, reading nightly, or going out for breakfast every Saturday. Research suggests a family which follows some type of routine is less stressed, their kids are healthier, and there is more structure. In a Columbia University study, 71% of teenagers said they consider talking/catching-up, and spending time with family members as the best part of family dinners (CASA, 2011).
Step 4: Support your teen’s relationship with his father.
The father’s role in your teenager’s life is very important and influential when it comes to self-image, ability to form positive relationships and moral development. Mothers can also become overwhelmed by the demands of being a single parent, unable to give all of the emotional needs for a teenager. Especially for a boy, if he doesn’t have some type of male figure in his life, there is a good chance it will be challenging for your son to develop his own idea of what a man is.
Step 5: Co-create.
Co-create means to form something with another person where both people agree and are satisfied. For example: Arguing about curfew is an opportunity to create an agreement about the time you would like your teen home during the week and on the weekend. Both parent and teen must be satisfied with the arrangement and trust each other to see it through.
Step 6: Help your teen understand trust.
Showing your teen trust will likely create a better relationship between the two of you. But, trust is earned. Teens, like everyone, should prove that they can be trusted with cars, money, and curfews. Talk to him about what it means to feel trust and how it’s important to show that he can handle responsibility.
Step 7: Don’t take things personally.
It’s best to learn to manage emotions and reactions. Take time to assess what’s really happening before you respond and try to put yourself in your teen’s shoes. And when you’re ready, talk to your teen to gain clarification, and talk about what you want and how you feel.
Step 8: Find your teen a role model.
Finding your teen a role model can help them develop better social skills, teach healthy habits, give them confidence, and prevent negative behaviors.
Step 9: Be aware of your emotions.
To be aware of your emotions one needs to be aware of themselves and understand why they feel the way they do. And remember, you can’t control your emotions, it’s best to learn to manage them and release the feelings in a healthy way. A good therapist will be able to get you there.
Step 10: Therapy is a great idea (For you and your son).
Talk therapy can be a positive experience. Even when things in your life are going well, it’s still great to talk with someone besides friends or family who can look at your life in a more unbiased way. A therapist can reflect with you in a way which helps you see situations in life differently and will help you take action.
Let us know what you think! If you’ve tried some of the steps let us know how it has worked out. If you want to know more about your teenager go to teenagesons.com.