Are you worried that your teenager is not coping with the stress of parental separation?
Do you want to provide your teenager with additional support through this challenging time? Helping teenagers deal with divorce is a really important aspect of separation that many parents overlook. Often parents themselves are so torn and upset with the separation process that they neglect to take their teens thoughts and feelings into consideration. It’s really important that you invest energy into helping teenagers deal with divorce, so that everyone can come out of the situation as happy and healthy as possible.
Teenagers Need Special Help During Divorce
Teenagers are flooded with hormones and are often overwhelmed with the challenge of transforming from a child to an adult. This is a confusing time for most teenagers, even when things in the home environment are stable. If you throw a divorce into the mix, many teenagers will struggle to deal with their emotions, often bottling them up and eventually breaking. Often parents neglect to keep their teenagers in the loop with what’s going on, making them feel isolated and disconnected from their families.
Keep Your Teenager in the Loop
While you shouldn’t keep your teenager up to date with every development in your divorce proceedings, it isn’t fair to suddenly spring things on your teen. It’s important that you explain the reasons for your separation to your teen so that they understand what has gone on. It’s important that you do not frame the other parent as being wrong or bad, even if their actions in the past were questionable. At the end of the day your ex partner is still your teenager’s parent, and despite your issues you should want them to have a healthy, happy relationship. As such, it’s important that you are honest with your teen without sabotaging their relationship with the other parent. Give your teen enough time and space to deal with their own feelings and emotions towards the situation and be open to questions – this is one of the best ways of helping your teenagers deal with divorce.
Try to Maintain Normality
Life for the average teenager feels like it is constantly changing: school, their friends, social situations and even their bodies are in a state of change. The last thing your teen needs is a changing home. After a separation, it’s likely that the home environment will change: with one parent leaving, or maybe even the whole family relocating. Try to make this process as easy on your teen as possible, and where relevant ask for their opinions. Some families find that a shared custody arrangement works well; others find that it is better for the teens to spend the school week at one parent’s house, while spending alternate weekends at the others. Whatever works for your family is fine, but try to establish a routine and sense of normality as soon as possible.
Be Neutral About the Other Parent
Even if you despise the other parent, it’s important that your teen has a healthy relationship with them, so long as they are not a negative influence on their life. It can be tempting to vent about how difficult or frustrating the other parent is, but it is going to damage your teen’s relationship with the other parent and ultimately with yourself. Be as neutral as possible, and stress to your child that you believe their relationship with their other parent is important, despite issues between you.
What have you found effective in minimizing the effects of a divorce on your teen? Is there anything you wish you had handled differently?