Helping Teens Through Divorce
Dealing with their parents’ divorce can be especially hard for children in their teens. With mood swings and detachment already common for this age group, experiencing feelings of insecurity and confusion during this time can worsen the situation. By recognizing the unique needs of teenagers, parents can help support them through the process.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
Parents should acknowledge all the feelings their teenagers may have during the divorce process. Experts recommend more listening and less talking when communicating with this age group. Teenagers are naturally less likely to express their feelings than younger children and it may be more challenging for parents to know how their teen is handling the situation.
Common emotions teens display during a divorce include:
It may be helpful for teenagers to discuss these feelings with a school counselor or mental health professional, especially if they are having difficulty expressing their emotions at home. Some teens find age appropriate support groups also to be helpful.
Keep Communication Open
Fear of the unknown can be a major concern for teens during the divorce process. Questions related to their future living situation, possible change of schools, visitation, and family finances will be common. Answering your child’s questions with honesty, even if it means telling them the answers are not worked out yet, will go a long way in retaining their trust. Reassurances that the they are loved by both parents should be communicated regularly.
Open communication does not mean parents should share all the details of the divorce with their teenaged children. A parent’s main confidant should never be their son or daughter. This places undue pressure on the child to choose one parent over another. It is never a child’s job to help relieve the emotional pain of their parent.
Relieve Their Guilt
Many teenagers will place the blame of the divorce on themselves. Disagreements over child custody can heighten these feelings. Parents should remember to reassure all their children, especially teenagers, the divorce is not their fault. Carrying around misplaced guilt that they contributed to their parents’ divorce can cause emotional trauma for years to come.
Work Together as Parents
Both parents’ involvement is crucial to reassure children that the end of the marriage does not mean the end of the family. It is important for all children to know the relationship with both parents will continue after the divorce. Spending quality time with both parents during the divorce process should be a priority.
Many teens will test their boundaries. Rules, routines, and discipline should remain consistent. This will require teamwork between divorcing parents, even when this is difficult to achieve. Putting the best interest of the children first is the ultimate goal. Conflict between parents should be kept away from teenagers when possible and children should never be used as a pawn during a divorce battle.
Bridgewater Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Handle Child Custody Cases Throughout New Jersey
Filing for divorce affects every member of a family. At Lyons & Associates, P.C., our dedicated divorce lawyers understand the stress a divorce can cause and work with families to make the process as smooth as possible. Our offices are conveniently located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, where we represent individuals in divorce, child custody, and alimony matters throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains. To schedule a free initial consultation with a Bridgewater divorce lawyer today, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online.