Your child is getting older, and, as a teen, he might have an opinion on what he wants to see happen with custody or visitation times. You and your ex have always been there for your child, and you both want what’s for the best, but as a young adult, your teen might have a different idea. How can you encourage your teen to accept your guidance in this situation and still allow him to be heard?
Ask him what he wants
The first thing you can do is to talk to him about what he wants. Even if you and your spouse can’t make the arrangements work out, knowing what your child expects out of this divorce and custody arrangement can help you make him more comfortable. Even though he’s older, he probably still has concerns about what’s going to happen in the future, so this is a good time to sit down and talk about the possibilities.
Bring your child to mediation sessions
Sometimes, teens don’t want to interact with their parents during a divorce, since they are angry and frustrated. If you and your spouse are going through a mediation session to work out a visitation schedule, consider taking your child as well. While younger children shouldn’t need to be present, an older teen might want to know exactly what’s happening and have input in what happens to him.
Mediation is a great place to bring your child, because having a third party there means it’s not just you and your ex-spouse talking together about what’s going to happen. The third party makes suggestions and also leads everyone to an agreement that works out. At the end of the day, you are both your child’s parents, so you will make the final decision, but it’s okay to make him feel included, especially if he is in his older teens at the time of your divorce.
Be willing to listen when changes need to be made
After you settle on a parenting arrangement, remember that your child still has to live with it. If he has a special event come up, will you and your ex be able to agree to a changes that need to happen? Your child needs to have some input even after a court decision to feel as if he is in some control over his own life. He’s getting close to adulthood, so now is the time to start paying attention to the way your child exhibits and expresses his independence.
In court and mediation, it’s up to you and your ex to work out a parenting agreement that works. Include your child to the extent you can while staying comfortable, and you may find that there is a solution that works well for everyone involved.