Co-parenting a Troubled Teen in Need of a Therapeutic Boarding Program

Co-parenting children after divorce is already difficult, even in amicable divorces. But when you are struggling with a troubled teen who needs to attend a therapeutic boarding school program to receive the help they need, co-parenting can become even more difficult.

If you have been considering sending your teen to a residential treatment center or therapeutic boarding program, but your ex-partner isn’t on board, there are ways to get on the same page to help your child in need.

Commit To Putting Your Teen’s Needs First

Depending on your relationship with your teen’s other parent, it may be difficult to find common ground at first. But when it comes to taking care of your shared child, it is essential that both of you commit to putting your teen’s needs first.

Should things between you and your co-parent be a bit emotionally tenuous, working with a mediator or family therapist may help the two of you work together more smoothly. Because, if your struggling teen does need to attend a residential treatment center, both you and your co-parent will need to be on the same page.

Create A Strategy With Your Co-Parent

With you and your co-parent firmly on the same side when it comes to taking care of your troubled teen’s needs, it is time to strategize with your ex-spouse. There are several steps you can take to develop an effective care strategy. To help spark ideas, here are some of the things we recommend for parents:

Lay Out Common Goals

Clearly, between you and your co-parent, the common goal is to see your shared teen happy, healthy, and thriving. However, aside from that overarching goal, things can become muddled.

For instance, say that you object to your teen experimenting with alcohol and other substances, but your co-parent doesn’t think it is much of an issue. It may take work to get on the same page concerning keeping your teen sober. But it is essential to establish these common goals before heading into treatment so that your teen doesn’t receive mixed messages.

Discuss What Has Been Done

Some co-parents object to residential treatment centers, especially if they aren’t the custodial parent. As the non-custodial parent hasn’t been consistently exposed to the problematic behavior displayed by your shared child, the co-parent may not understand the severity of the issue or everything that you have done so far.

So, to help both your co-parent and yourself understand what has been done so far to help your teen, clearly lay out what interventions have already been attempted.

Present Therapeutic School Options

There are many therapeutic boarding schools available. To help you narrow down the options—and to not overwhelm you and your co-parent—start outlining what you want with these criteria.

  • In-state or out-of-state - Depending on where you live, you may or may not have an appropriate therapeutic boarding school in the boundaries of your state. Also, some states have better oversight over their troubled teen programs, such as Utah. So, with your co-parent, you will need to decide if your teen should attend a program in-state or out-of-state.
  • Short-term program or long-term stay - After the general location is clarified, the duration of the program should be determined. Generally, it is advisable for teens to attend a therapeutic boarding school for at least six months. That way, genuine changes can be made and new, positive habits instilled.
  • Co-ed or same-gender - There are co-ed therapeutic boarding schools and same-gender programs. While teens can thrive in both environments, you and your co-parent will need to determine which is best for your teen. However, for some teenage boys, attending an all-boys therapeutic boarding school can remove a lot of the pressure on their behaviors.
  • Online research or troubled teen program advisor - While Google can help you turn up a lot of useful information, it can also be overwhelming when you are looking for the right therapeutic boarding school. There are troubled teen program advisors that can help you find the right program for your teen; however, some of these advisors may charge a fee while others will not.

Once you have clarified what options you and your co-parent can agree on, it’s time to talk about finances.

Talk About Finances

The trickiest part for many co-parents when it comes to taking care of their children is the related finances. Treatment at a residential center for troubled teens can be expensive, as it covers your teen’s room and board, education, and therapy.

While it is possible for one parent to shoulder the cost of the residential treatment center, it is best if you and your co-parent can work together to finance your teen’s stay. Also, if your teen has a college fund or 529 Plan, then you two may want to discuss dipping into it to help pay for your teen’s immediate needs.

Make Sure Your Teen Knows They Are Loved

Last, but most importantly, no matter what therapeutic boarding school program you and your co-parent decide on, make sure that your teen knows that they are loved. Divorce can have a long-lasting effect on teens, and they are three times as likely to struggle with psychological issues than their peers whose parents don’t divorce.

Even while your teen attends a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens, there are ways to stay involved and reinforce that you both still love your child. At programs like ours here at Liahona Treatment Center, we encourage contact between attending teens and their parents, and we provide family therapy sessions to help everyone reconnect and heal.

If you would like to see if our residential treatment program is a good fit for your teenage son, feel free to contact us. Our program advisors are more than happy to talk to you about your concerns and provide you with advice.

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