All members of the parenting team must be on the same page.

When I was running a youth program and actively working with teens, on their own, I recognized that one of my primary functions was to make sure that all adults that were influential in a teen’s life were on the same page when they worked with a teen. They all needed to understand what the treatment and social work goals were and to have a basic agreement on the steps towards those goals. I was like the quarterback of a team that, much of the time, didn’t have a clue that the others on the team even existed and certainly were not in regular communication with each other. The only thing they all had in common was contact with the teen and me.

Depending on the kid and the situation, I would be talking to parents (if they were in the picture at all), teachers and school officials, probation officers, social workers, judges, mental health professionals and the like. What normally was happening before I got involved was the teen “program-shopped” for the easiest ride rather than the best solution and would manipulate and play all these folks. When I was in the picture and doing this “quarterback” job, no matter who the teen turned to, he/she got the same advice and feedback and the chances of a more positive outcome greatly increased. This is because everyone was on the same page.

This same principle applies to parents. Those parents, who are not on the same page when it comes to having a clear method of how they are going to raise and parent their teens, will be doing their teens a disservice. Teens need to hear a constant message from their parents otherwise they “parent-shop” for the easier, softer way. “If I can’t get it from Dad, I’ll ask Mom,” is a skill that comes natural to teens. Mixed messages to teens will always be understood as the least onerous of the messages. Parents that are not on the same parenting skills page are very susceptible to this manipulation with potentially disastrous consequences to their ability to effectively guide their teens and to the parents’ relationship with each other. I can not tell you the number of parents I have worked with that were having severe marital problems, many times close to divorce because they were conflicted on how to parent their teens. Their teens were playing one parent against the other and the parents were blaming each other for exacerbating the continual problems with their teens behaviors and actions or inactions.

When I am coaching parents, my first concern is to make sure that they are functioning as a “parent team” and that that team has agreement on all things related to parenting their teens. They also need to have a working understanding that they will consult with each other when new situations arise where they do not have a clear understanding of the other parent’s thoughts. It is quite OK and, with the exception of emergency situations, to answer a teen’s request with, “your father/mother and I need to discuss this.” Consulting with your parenting partner before responding to your teen will prevent that after the fact response from your spouse of, “You let him do what?!!!!!” It will assure that your teen gets a consistent massage and it will build that strong parenting team his/her welfare depends on.

Even in those emergency situations, if you both have consistently discussed and agree on your approach to parenting of teens, you will already have a very good understanding of your partners feelings and will be able to, with confidence, act as the spokesperson for your parenting team.

If you and your co-parenting partner are having problems getting on the same page, for the sake of your kids, it is time to call me. I have a black belt in raising teens and have assisted many parents to, once again, become effective parents.

[Would you like to reprint this article? You can, as long as you publish the entire article and include this complete blurb with it: Life Coach Jason Wittman, MPS, teaches winning parenting techniques to parents of teens and coaches them as they guide their teens through that minefield called adolescence. If you’re ready to become a very effective parent, you can find more FREE tips and learn how you can benefit by his coaching at http://TheParentsCoach.com ]

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