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How to deal with teen (custody) angst

31052786_S.jpgIf you are the parent of a teenager, you are probably well aware that your child is in a very tricky phase of life. In an attempt to navigate the teenage years, they very well may be taking risks, becoming more emotional and making mistakes.

The fact is adolescence is an incredibly difficult and awkward time for most people, and it can become even more complicated for a teen whose parents are getting divorced. If you are a parent going through a divorce or custody battle and have a teenage child, then there are some things you will want to consider.

Let's use the recently reported custody battle between Madonna and her ex-husband as a way to illustrate some of the nuances of custody and teenagers. The two are butting heads over where their 15-year-old son should live: in the U.K. with his dad or in the U.S. with his mom.

The son has evidently stated that he wants to live with his father. This is something you can expect from your own teenager: he or she will have an opinion on where and with whom he or she wants to live. These requests should be taken into account when determining what is in your child's best interests.

Madonna and her ex have also resolved to work on their relationship with each other to avoid future disputes. Parenting with an ex can be extraordinarily frustrating. However, you are setting an example for your kids. If you focus on being patient, respectful and level-headed, you are sending a better message to your teen than if you were to fight, criticize and lash out in exchanges with your ex.

Finally, as noted by the judge in Madonna's case, childhood will not last forever. Your child will grow out of adolescence and become an adult. Spending those crucial years in court or fighting with each other can result in parents missing out on -- and further complicating -- a significant phase of a child's life.

Parenting a teen is an incredible challenge, particularly when you are doing it with but separately from the other parent. However, focusing on these areas and creating a solid parenting plan can help you and your child get through this time together.

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