Divorce and Teenagers
by Denise Witmer, About.com
Tips for Parents
- Be available to listen. Don't try to be both parents, the best way to help your teenager is to be yourself.
- Most likely, you have told your teenager that the divorce is not their fault. It is important to reassure them of this fact often as teens learn from repeating a message over and over.
- Your teenager is not an indirect form of communication with your x-spouse. Do not use them as such. Even though it is easier to have your teenager tell your x-spouse that they can't pick them up at the time specified, for example, do not do this. It places undo stress on your teenager. Use only direct communication between you and your x-spouse.
- Minimize the changes your teenager will have to go through after a divorce. Try not to change schools or take away activities that they are used to doing.
- Use consistent discipline in your home. Try to come up with a plan between you and your x-spouse to use consistent discipline in both homes.
- Every teenager whose family is going through a divorce has feelings of anger and anxiety, even if they aren't acting on these feelings. They may hide them so as not to add to the conflict surrounding them, but it is very rare for a child of divorcing parents not to have these feelings. Find them help in dealing with these feelings.
- Uphold the relationships they have in their life. Sometimes it is hard to think of our children as anything more than an extension of ourselves. But, they are their own person, with different relationships with the people who surrounded your family. Do not only allow them to keep the relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., but also, promote them. Send a clear message that even though their family structure has changed, 'family' is still important.
- Become an informed parent. Many times teenagers of divorce will bottle up most of their feelings about the divorce. It then comes out in 'acting-out behavior'. This wouldn't be so bad if things such as drugs weren't so readily available to them. Know what your teenager faces in their daily lives so you can be on top of any pitfalls they may come to.