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When Your Ex Only Now Wants A Relationship With Your Teenage Child; How Does This Shape The Child’s Mental Health Into Young Adulthood?

Jaclyn Hughes

Believe it or not, even back in the 1950’s there were marriages that split up, and one parent often took off and left the parenting to other person to facilitate. In 2017, this happens more often of course, as many can’t handle only seeing their children part time, or maybe they don’t know how to live comfortably paying child support, or perhaps it’s a parent that was abusive; whatever the situation, many kids are raised by only one of their biological parents for many years. While it’s not ideal, lots of these great kids just become accustomed to this lifestyle, and they carry on with life as they know it. Well, what do you do when all of a sudden, the parent that was absent all those years wants to have a relationship with the child once they are teenagers?

This is frustrating, without question. Many parents that raised the child/children alone are angered that the absent parent thinks they are entitled to the child now. The fact is, many family court divisions will encourage this to develop simply with the thought that more parents are always better than less. But, of course, with this change, there can come a lot of tears and pain.

Teenagers are strong people, and maybe your son or daughter wants nothing to do with this other parent. Do you force them to try to accept this person into their lives, do you take it to court, or do you simply ignore the request from the absent parent, and hope nothing ever transpires from it?

Lots to think about, but the biggest comment is how you speak to your child about this. Children can be very fragile emotionally, especially teenagers. They have a lot going on in their social lives, and at school, and this topic alone could send them into quite the emotional overload, so tread lightly.

It may be best to go into this information in the presence of a therapist. Perhaps even have the other parent at this session for the first meeting, so that they child has you there for security, and the therapist there to mediate all the uncomfortableness.

The more people that love your child, the better. The more people that have their best interests in mind, and want to help mold them into successful adults, the better. If prior abuse was an issue, then without question, proceed accordingly with professionals at your side. The team at the Guardian has a piece on this very topic that can also add a different perspective for you to look into as well. Ultimately, it has to be whatever is in the nest interests of your teen/s. Talk with therapists, family, friends, and collectively get a plan in place that won’t bring on massive change and shock the teen’s current lifestyle.

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