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The Importance of Keeping Teens Talking after Parents' Divorce

teen on phone.jpgChildren of divorce can experience a wide range of changes and difficult emotions in the wake of a split, especially as pre-teens and teenagers. One of the top priorities for parents should be to minimize unnecessary pain and conflict their child may be facing. 

According to a recent study, one way to do this is to keep kids talking -- not just to one parent or to a counselor, but to both parents.

Maintaining youth resiliency

The study examined data from 400 divorced parents with kids between the ages of 10 and 18. And while the parents varied in terms of their relationship with each other (from cooperative to adverse), the data showed that kids who had more contact with both of their parents were emotionally healthier than those who did not.

This research suggests that children who communicate regularly and often with both parents can experience fewer behavioral problems after divorce. They can also experience less emotional distress than children who do not have open, frequent contact with both parents. Parents also had greater awareness of their child's daily lives and needs.

Making communication part of your parenting plan

Based on these findings, you might want to ensure your own child can text, call, email or otherwise contact both parents after the divorce. To do this, you can establish communication permissions and boundaries in your parenting plan.

Consider the following questions:

  • Will your child have his or her own phone or device?
  • Are there hours during which your child should not communicate with a parent? This might include late at night or during school hours.
  • What measures will you take if the communication frequency interferes with the other person's parenting time?
  • What will you do if your child is lying to or manipulating one parent?
  • Whom should a child contact in cases of emergency or trouble?
  • Is your child old enough to communicate responsibly, or will parents be responsible for managing the frequency and subject matter of conversations?

These are all important discussions to have as you create the framework for your parenting plan. If you can create a clear, direct plan facilitating the communication between parents and children after divorce, you can avoid conflict and make it easier for your child to openly communicate.

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