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Making co-parenting work for you and your teen

There is nothing quite like the experience of raising a teenager, which can be both challenging and rewarding. But some of those challenges can seem much bigger when you are divorced. Learning how to effectively co-parent with an ex-spouse might be one of the biggest hurdles.

Of course, cooperating with an ex after divorce can feel impossible at first. After all, you decided to divorce for a reason. However, many parents in North Carolina make sharing joint custody work. In fact, many families even thrive in this arrangement. Here are a few tips for making co-parenting work for you and your child.

Being rigid is not helpful

Teenagers might still be kids, but they are on a path that is nearing adulthood. Your teen may already be creating a life of his or her own, one that is separate from your own. He or she has afterschool activities, social commitments, homework and more. It is not uncommon for teens to hold down part-time jobs, either.

This means that you and your ex will need to be flexible. You should not totally disregard the parenting schedule, but you should be prepared for deviations every now and then. For example, if your teen had to work later than expected and his or her other parent's house is closer, it might be easier to just stay there for the night -- even if it is your night. Showing your child that his or her responsibilities are also important to you will help foster your relationship as time goes on.

Communication goes a long way

There are two reasons that might contribute to a breakdown in communication. Since your teen is older and taking on more responsibility, you might assume that he or she will pass on all relevant information. Or you might just not feel like speaking with your ex.

The problem with the first reason is this -- your teen probably is not giving you the full story. Whether he or she simply forgets or only shared information with your ex, teenagers are not exactly known for being open books. So, while you may not feel like communicating with your ex-spouse, you should still talk with one another about important information regarding your child. It can be helpful to establish which lines of communication are acceptable, like texting or calling.

Your teen still needs your support

Your teen is now acting more and more like an adult, and now you are even starting to see them as one. While they are certainly in that transition period, they still need your love and support -- maybe now more than ever. Making a sincere effort to effectively co-parent with your ex is just one way of giving him or her that support.

It might be easier to discuss the finer points of co-parenting than it is to actually create an agreement. Co-parenting does not come naturally for most people, so you have to be willing to commit to giving it your all. This includes making sure you get the best guidance possible through your divorce. If you are facing this situation now, do not hesitate to reach out to a lawyer with plenty of experience in North Carolina family law.

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