Raising a teenager to become a mature and responsible adult can seem like a daunting task, but how do you cope as a parent when your co-parent doesn’t enforce rules and limits? Teenagers will test their limits and bend your rules, but firmly maintaining that structure will ultimately encourage self-confidence and foster qualities that will prepare them for life on their own. When one or both parents feel uncomfortable enforcing the rules, it not only affects the child but disrupts harmony in the home.
Why and Where the Struggle Occurs
This can happen between parents for many reasons: miscommunications, power struggles, differences in parenting style, and often during the transition of a divorce, it can seem easier or more compassionate to ease up on restrictions. Often, not enforcing the limits is not a conscious decision. Some parents will react out of frustration or anger and threaten a consequence that it impossible to follow through with, such as “You’re grounded for life!” Others may want to avoid confrontation or “help” a child by doing their chores or overlooking past due homework. As each situation is unique, parents may face only one or all of these challenges and the solution must be carefully considered for each family.
Ideas for Resolving Conflict as Co-Parents
If your interactions with a co-parent are fraught with conflict, special restrictions and allowances can be made – such as agreeing to “parallel parenting” as opposed to working closely together to homogenize rules and consequences. This may also be the method used for co-parents who are civil but disagree strongly on parenting styles or what boundaries to enforce.
When parents are especially concerned about a teenager suffering the effects of divorce, consider using creative consequences rather than punishments. In this way, limits are still maintained, but possibly with less conflict and emotional distress for parent and child.
Ultimately, improvements in communication will be key. For parents, the OurFamilyWizard® website has a set of communication tools to encourage better focus, healthier interactions, and precise scheduling. Ideally, co-parents will reach a place where they can calmly and openly discuss items of concern with each child and together create a cohesive set of rules and consequences that can span all households. Improving communication with your teen will also be invaluable in creating harmony in your home.
Benefits of Structure in the Home
As progress is made toward enforcing limits, the results may not come without struggle and effort. Be patient and know that each family dynamic will be different, each child has their own personality and challenges, but studies continue to show that parents who set limits have healthier and happier teenagers. The added bonus, of course, is by maintaining your home structure, focusing on your children’s needs and working with your co-parent to communicate without conflict will hopefully increase your own overall well-being.
Tyler Jacobson is an experienced researcher and writer for organizations that help troubled teen boys. His writing offers real life experiences, humor, and hope for parents of difficult teens. Tyler enjoys bringing honest solutions to families looking for ways to heal. He helps parents by writing valuable information on topics such as education, social media use, behavioral and mental disorders, as well as addiction. Tyler has helped hundreds of families in need. Follow Tyler on Twitter | LinkedIn