Teenagers have a lot to deal with on a daily basis. Aside from the pressure they may feel to fit in at school, they are also learning how to handle their bodies’ changes, get a handle on their emotions, and still learn what is needed to become an adult.
Because your teen will experience so many changes during these formative years, they may have a hard time dealing with changes at home, especially divorce. Your teen may wonder why you and your spouse have decided to get divorced now, and they’ll likely assume that you two can work it out and love each other the way you once used to. Some teens will also use this as an excuse to act out, and some will wonder if they may be the reason behind the divorce. Make sure that you assure your child that they aren’t the reason that you decided to get a divorce.
Since you don’t know what type of reaction you will get out of your teen when you discuss the divorce, it’s best to be prepared. The following tips will help you learn how to communicate with and help your teen cope with divorce.
Tell Your Child About the Divorce Together
You and your spouse should tell your teen about the upcoming divorce together. This way, your child will still have both parents there to answer any questions, and it will ensure they receive the most neutral deliverance of the information. If one parent provides the information, your teen may resent you for being the bearer of bad news, or they may let your skewed opinion of your spouse influence their own decision, thus resulting in them resenting him or her.
If you don’t think that you and your spouse can provide this information calmly and together, you may want to have your divorce attorneys or a family lawyer present too to mediate the situation; however, this may put unnecessary pressure and stress on your child, so consider this before making a decision.
Answer Any and All Questions as Honestly as You Can
The best way to help your teen cope with divorce is to allow them to ask questions and to answer them as honestly as you can. Providing your teen with information can help them understand the reason behind the divorce instead of assuming they are at fault. While talking with your teen about divorce, it’s always best to make the decision appear as neutral between you and your spouse. If you or your spouse cheated, this is not the information you want to share with your teen. After all, your spouse is still your teen’s parent, and you do not want to skew their opinion of them, no matter how you personally feel.
Keep their Lives as Normal as Possible
No matter how you and your spouse may feel about one another, it’s important that you make the divorce easier on your teen by keeping their lives as normal as possible. Although you will not be sharing the same household as a family, be sure that your child gets to spend quality time with both parents. It’s also important to make every effort to keep your teen in the same house (or neighborhood) so they don’t have to change schools and say goodbye to friends because of the divorce.
One good option for parents is to use a parenting coordinator to ensure the best interests of the child are being determined. According to Shapiro Legal, “A parenting coordinator may work with the child if they are of an age to communicate their needs. They can also speak with others who may be of assistance. This may include school counselors or others who deal with the family and can give valuable insight.”
Seek Professional Help
Sometimes divorce can be harder on your teen than you were expecting, and this can lead to acting out or even depression. If you notice signs that your child is depressed or is acting out in other ways, be sure to seek professional help. Sometimes just talking to someone else outside of the family can help your child cope better with the divorce.
Do you have any other suggestions on how to make divorce easier for your child/teenager?