Custody Arrangement Not Always Best For Teens
By Lisa Cohn
you have any advice about 50/50 custody splits? My teenage sons
dad wants to change our custody arrangement so our son is with his
dad more often-- with me one week and with his dad the next week.
My son doesnt want to do this. Hed rather be at my house
more often, close to his friends.
50-50 custody arrangement doesnt always make sense, especially
for a teen. Susan Wisdom, a licensed professional counselor in Portland,
Ore. and co-author of Stepcoupling, stresses that teens
often are breaking away from their families. They want more control
of their lives.
self-centered and into their friends, says Wisdom. Thats
the normal development pattern at this age.
teens dont like the idea of splitting their time equally between
two houses. Often, their friends live close to either Moms
or Dads house. Teens dont want to schlep their
stuff, and they dont want to be inconvenienced or taken away
from friends, says Wisdom. Forcing a reluctant teen
to switch back and forth against his will is often a mistake,
often suggests that parents focus more on quality time,
not quantity time she says. If the teen spends two nights
a week with Dad, it doesnt mean that Dad is losing him, Wisdom
says. The goal is to work out a solution that provides for quality
time between the parent and the teen.
it's sad and difficult for divorced parents to not have their kids
grow up with them 24-7, says Wisdom. The challenge is
to work out a solution that includes quality time between the parents
and teen. Then the teen will continue to stay connected with Dad
and Mom in a healthy way.
agree that this situation is particularly sad. When parents first
get divorced, they often dont realize that dividing kids between
two homes will really limit their time with their children once
they become teens.
critical for the parents to work together to resolve this issue.
You may consider seeking a third-party counselor to help you resolve
this. You can find a list of stepfamily counselors at www.saafamilies.com.
Cohn is co-author of One Family, Two Family, New Family: Stories
and Advice for Stepfamilies, (www.stepfamilyadvice.com)
and co-host of Stepfamily Talk Radio (www.stepfamilytalkradio.com).