For teens, there is a sense of independence and control that comes with growing older. When a divorce is thrown into the works, that freedom may feel threatened, and life may not be what they expected.
Teens may struggle with a divorce more than parents expect because of the sudden loss of a long-term family relationship. While they’re better able to cope with changes than young children, they may opt to spend time away from both parents or find it difficult to adjust to living in new homes or in new locations.
What can parents do to help their teens through a divorce?
Even if custody isn’t a concern in a divorce, your teen may be upset or frustrated. Give him or her space, but remain open and available. You want your teen to feel comfortable talking to you if and when he or she is ready. Some teens blame themselves for divorces, so it’s worth having at least one sit down with one another to talk over what’s happening and to make sure your child knows that he or she is not to blame for the divorce.
Another thing that sometimes happens when teens are involved is that one parent feels that he or she can move further away. Teens are older and capable of travel, but that doesn’t make it easier to see one parent so much less than usual. Make sure you talk to your child about his or her feelings on the distance. Set up times when your child can go to the other parent’s home or talk to him or her through virtual visitation. Using Skype or other video software is helpful in closing the gap distance causes.
Finally, remember that your teen is still your child and should not become your shoulder to cry on. You should not talk negatively about the other parent to him or her and should find other places to grieve rather than to your child. You have to remember that your teen is still hurting, just as you are, and he or she cannot be expected to treat you as a friend or peer during the divorce. You need to treat your teen as your child, respecting that he or she likely cares for you and the other parent involved and does not want to hear either of you disparage one another.
These are just a few things to remember when you’re going through divorce with a teen. Your teen is your child and deserves your respect and support during this difficult time.