When parents get divorced, it can profoundly impact the lives of their children. For teens, this process can be particularly difficult. Parents sometimes lean on teenagers to take care of their younger siblings, do more house chores, or even pass on messages between both of them. This process can take an emotional toll on teenagers, and as teenagers are not adults, they need additional support to learn how to deal with a divorce.
Teenagers or adolescents are going through physical changes and fluctuating hormones which can affect their emotions. Teens going through a divorce can become emotionally aloof and not share their feelings. They can become depressed and start spending more time alone. Becoming distant from their friends and not taking part in extra-curricular activities they enjoyed before the divorce can be a sign of depression. Academic issues such as poor grades, a defiant attitude, increased levels of stress, trouble sleeping, and feelings of sadness and anger towards parents are all common effects teens go through.
Useful Tips for Teens Going Through Divorce
1. Find a confidante
If your parents are going through a divorce, finding a confidant to share your feelings with can lighten things. Find someone you can trust and share your feelings with, such as a good friend or close family member. You may feel strong feelings of sadness and grief, which can be overwhelming. Share this load with someone who acknowledges how you feel and can support you.
2. You don’t have to take sides
Sometimes when parents tend to discuss divorce with their children, they share their side of the story. They can also play with your sympathy so that you take their side. A good way to deal with this is not to take sides. Calmly let them know that you do not want to get involved. You can also encourage them to see a therapist or coach that can help them make good decisions.
3. Let yourself have fun
When your parents are splitting, it’s normal to feel depressed and try to isolate yourself. Try to have fun and go out with your friends. Taking care of yourself will enable you to care for others.
4. It’s ok to express yourself
When going through a divorce, teenagers may feel a combination of betrayal, anger, and guilt. When feeling this way, it’s ok to talk to your parents and get reassurance from them. It’s perfectly alright to express your entire range of feelings, including anger and resentment, without having to choose sides between parents or feeling guilty.
What can parents do to help?
Parents should encourage their teenage children to have a good relationship with each of them. They should avoid blaming each other in front of the child and avoid loud vocal arguments in their child’s presence. Do not badmouth your partner, as this can add to the stress and negativity your child is already feeling about the divorce.
Parents should be available when their children need to talk to them. They should encourage their teen to express their feelings and openly talk about everything going on in their life. If the child is not speaking to you, encourage them to talk to someone they are comfortable with, such as a grandparent or teacher.
Make clear arrangements about where your teenager will live and how frequently they will be meeting the other parent. Making a stable routine for your child will help them during this stressful time. Whatever decisions you make regarding living arrangements involve your child and seek their agreement.
Give your teenager space. Make sure they have a quiet place where they can study or relax in both parents’ houses. Also, ensure all their needs are met, i.e., they have all their necessary equipment and books available wherever they are.
It’s alright to seek expert support if you are concerned about your child’s physical or mental wellness. You can find a therapist or counselor for your child or the whole family. At times, meditation also helps encourage dialogue. Consensus can be reached when having challenging conversations such as living arrangements in calm and neutral environments.
Try not to give your child excessive details about the divorce. Draw a line between being a parent and a friend, and don’t discuss events surrounding the breakdown of your relationship.
Teens going through a divorce go through a tough time. Parents have the power to minimize how their divorce impacts their children. Despite the divorce process, parents should try and strengthen their bond with their teenagers. They should spend quality time together to show them that the divorce does not affect their relationship with their child and that they will get through it together.