How to Help Your Teen Survive Your Divorce
Divorcing when your child is a teenager poses unique challenges. In many ways, the two of you are in a similar spot — while you’re trying to establish a new life as a single person, your teen is trying to discover their own solid identity and place in the world.
What can you do to support your child?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to helping your teenager cope with divorce. But if you have built a healthy foundation with them prior to your divorce, it’s likely that your relationship will improve in time.
Adolescents are greatly impacted by change and may grasp for control in dramatic ways. One way this plays out is in a custody schedule. Whereas the younger child may seem to enter into the routine of spending time with both parents with few complaints, it’s common for a teenager to balk at the ground rules that have been set for “Parenting Time” – a term describing the time a child spends with both parents.
Friends, school, extracurricular activities, and jobs are all crucial to a teen’s well-being. Being flexible in your parenting schedule allows your teenager time to enjoy the things that are essential for his or her life.
But if you hold onto your own agenda and are rigid, he or she might end up feeling disappointed or resentful toward you. Operating from a mind-set that your teen needs balance in their life will serve as a protective factor during the whirlwind of adolescence.
Here are some tips for guiding your teenager through your divorce so they can transition successfully into adulthood.
7 Tips for Helping Your Teen Survive Divorce
1. Listen without judgment:
One of the most important things to do when a teenager is going through their parent’s divorce is to listen without judgment. Allow them to express their feelings and frustrations and provide a safe space to do so.
2. Be honest:
Be honest and open with your teenager about the divorce. Don’t sugarcoat the situation or hide important details. Be honest and sincere in your conversation.
3. Spend quality time together:
Spend quality time with your teenager. Whether it’s playing a board game together, watching a movie, or going out to dinner, the important thing is to show them that you are still there for them.
4. Seek professional help:
If needed, seek professional help for your teenager. A mental health professional can provide a safe space for your teenager to talk about their feelings and provide guidance on how to cope.
5. Take care of yourself:
As a parent, it’s important to take care of yourself during this difficult time. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising.
6. Reassure them:
Reassure your teenager that you and other family members love them and are there for them. Let them know that you understand what they are going through.
7. Stay positive:
Remind your teenager that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. Encourage them to focus on the positive aspects of their life and look for the silver lining in every situation.
Adolescence brings confusion for both parent and child. Divorce and all it implies can turn confusion into chaos. But the best asset you have amid this chaos is your teenager. If you work hard to see the divorce through their eyes, they will give you most if not all of the answers you both need to weather the storm of not only adolescence but divorce as well.