How Can I Support My Teenager Through My Divorce?
Maintaining Parent-Child Bonds While Dissolving a Marriage
Teenage years are monumental moments of self-discovery that offer a chance to start building an individual identity. While teenagers are battling to figure out who they are and who they want to be, a changing environment offers additional complications. There is no easy way to break the news of divorce to children, but there are steps you could take that will let your child know that you and your former spouse still love them and will be there for them all the same.
Give Your Child the Space to Talk and Actively Listen to Them
Your child is going to have a lot on their mind as they digest this new information. Give them your undivided attention and be willing to answer their questions and hear their fears.
Remain Their Parent, Not Their Friend
This change is going to impact your child significantly. It’s important that you not let it impact the dynamic of your relationship with them.
Do not badmouth your ex-spouse or dissect your relationship with your child. Involving them in the details of your relationship and putting them in the middle of it all could effectively harm your relationship with your child, as well as their relationship with your ex.
Continue to Be a Role Model of Healthy Behavior
Maintaining a healthy and amicable relationship with your former spouse will allow your child a chance to acknowledge and mirror proper relationships.
Be Supportive and Understanding
Teenagers will naturally distance as they gain independence and responsibilities through passing their road test and getting their license, finding a part-time job, and building strong friendships. While it will be a normal reaction to want them to stay home during your shared time with them, showing an acceptance for their time away while maintaining an expectation for proper behavior allows your child to trust you enough to come to you if they ever run into a problem.
Be Willing to Give Your Child the Help they Need
Understand the warning signs of hardship and struggling to cope with the news of divorce. If your child is performing worse in school, changing their behavior, or exhibiting any other act that is uncharacteristic, it’s important to speak to them and acknowledge the effects the change is having. Reassure them that you are there for them to talk through this change, but be willing to find professional help for them if they could benefit from it.
There is no way to make divorce unsignificant in your teenager’s life, but by taking steps like these to remain available to your child, continue a healthy relationship with them, and exhibit healthy behaviors for them to witness and imitate, the process can be made more tolerable.
For more help with divorce, contact The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates.