Like other forms of trauma, divorce can leave a child temporarily or permanently distraught. Teenagers can especially suffer from their parents’ split since they have to deal with uprooting their current lives and adjusting to a new “normal”.
As teens are more mature and independent, parents rely on them to handle more chores or help out with their younger siblings. Although teens may be older and emotionally intelligent than their younger siblings, they are still not adults. Teenagers still require the love and support of their parents, especially while navigating the difficulties of their parent’s divorce.
How to Help Your Teen Cope and Thrive After Your Divorce
Teenagers can cope with the impact of divorce by indulging in harmful behaviors, including excessive drinking, drug abuse, and early sexual activity. Even if your child is resilient enough not to exhibit psychological issues, that doesn’t mean they are not struggling.
Teens whose parents split experience a wide variety of emotions, and sometimes those can create major disruptions in their life. Some effects can include academic underperformance, behavioral issues at school, depression, defiance, difficulty maintaining intimate relations even in adulthood, anger or hurt towards one or both parents, increased stress levels, insomnia, and trouble getting along with parents, siblings, and peers.
If you are in the process of getting a divorce, here are some tips to help your teenage child get through the process easier and allow them to bounce back quicker.
Plan How You Will Deliver The News
When delivering news about the divorce, it is important not to hide too much information. Furthermore, sit down with your ex-partner and tell your teen about the split together. Doing so will make them feel that even if the marriage is no longer working, you are still cohesive as a family unit and will remain as such even in the future, including during the divorce proceedings.
Be Very Clear That They Are Not The Cause Of The Separation
Your teen may fall into a spell of self-blame when they hear the news of your divorce. Explain to them that they aren’t responsible for the split and that it resulted from adult problems. They also need to know that there is nothing that can be done to fix the situation, or else they will cling to the hope of their parents reuniting.
Avoid making disparaging comments about your ex-spouse to your teen: “telling the child that the other parent is to blame for the divorce or separation, telling the child details of a custody battle or simply “I am a good parent, your father is a bad one,’” are examples of parental alienation, note divorce attorneys at Fernandez & Karney.
Give Them A Safe Space To Express Their Feelings
The divorce news can be big to process and the results can be detrimental if your teen doesn’t have a proper outlet to vent their feelings. Listen attentively and encourage them to speak their mind. They may say hurtful things or even blame you for the divorce, but don’t react emotionally – you must stay calm. Avoid interrupting and answer any questions they ask as honestly as possible.
If you are dealing with your issues and can’t provide a safe space for your child, you may consider sending them to therapy. You should also make an extra effort to engage in stimulating activities, such as family time so they don’t dwell on the hurt and anger.
Keep Their New Routine As Normal As Possible
Teenagers feel more confident and safe when they know what to expect and don’t have to undergo big changes. Work toward establishing common routines that both you and your former partner can follow. If you have more than one child, give them equal time and attention.