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How conflicts with your co-parent may affect your teen

Teenagers can be perplexing creatures. At one minute, they could care less what their parents do or say and in the next minute their parents’ words and actions can matter very, very much. Even when your teen appears not to be watching or listening, he or she is likely taking life clues from your behavior. His or her sense of justice, acceptance, respect and etiquette will likely be modeled after yours to a great extent.

As a result, it is important to remain calm and collected around your co-parent for the sake of your teen, if not for your own sake. Teens can not only find conflict between co-parents to be humiliating, they can internalize your stress and they can also alter their sense of right and wrong behavior by watching how you behave.

Conversing with a co-parent about “hot button” issues like child support can be a uniquely frustrating process. As can reacting to his or her tardiness, thoughtlessness, negligence or other negative behaviors. However, your calm and healthy approach to these situations will ultimately teach your child to react in similar ways when he or she experiences conflict in life.

It is also important to show your teen a united front with your co-parent on important issues, if possible. You and your co-parent are unlikely to agree on every aspect of your teen’s life. However, teens need boundaries in order to teach them everything from responsible driving behavior to respecting commitments. If you and your co-parent can put your differences aside to reinforce important values and boundaries, your sentiments will become that much more powerful.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Teens Caught in the Web of Parents' Conflicts,” Risa Garon, July 28, 2014

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