5 Ways To Support Your Teenager Through Divorce
Has your teen shut you out of their life?
Life as a modern teenager is not easy. Dealing with school, puberty, and social pressures is already overwhelming as it is, and coming home to a stressful environment can make it more so. Divorce is a taxing process that can take a toll on the entire household, especially teens as they have a tendency to blame themselves.
In a divorced family, teenagers are likely to feel displaced as they alternate between both parents. Given where they are developmentally, they are more aware than younger children and understand when there is discord between their parents. It’s safe to say, while they understand adult problems if they aren’t equipped to handle the emotional weight. It can cause havoc on their self-esteem and relationships with others.
Here Are 5 Ways To Ease Your Teen Into Their New Lifestyle:
1. Be Attentive
Be on the lookout for sudden behavior changes such as acting out in school, or withdrawing from friends and social activities. Even under normal circumstances, teenagers are known for rebellion. During a divorce, it’s easy for typical teenage behavior and problematic behavior to become ambiguous. By being attentive, you will be able to differentiate between the two and help your teen get the support they need.
Whether it’s a tutor, one-on-one time with you, or creating their personal space in their new home, helping them remove external stressors can ease the transitional process.
2. Set clear and healthy boundaries
While communication is necessary and encouraged in a family, it is important to know where to draw the line when talking to your teens. Oversharing the details of your divorce or badmouthing your ex may make them feel like they have to take sides. Using your children as an outlet for what you’re going through may make them feel burdened. Teens haven’t emotionally matured to handle adult struggles. And, forcing a child to grow up before they are ready and lead to greater relationship problems in their adult life.
Establishing and respecting boundaries will help promote trust within the household, and your children will feel more comfortable confiding in you. Given they are no longer children and not quite yet adults, figure out what suits you as a parent but also be open to their suggestions. Teens are pretty responsive to boundaries when they are given the opportunity in helping establish them. Whether it’s phone time, curfew hours, or attending family night create a workable agreement between you and your teens.
3. Have Patience
It is also important not to pressure your teen into a conversation they are not ready for. This doesn’t mean keeping your teen in the dark about your divorce, but an emotional conversation will feel a lot less meaningful if it is forced.
Let your teen know you are open to talk about the divorce and they can ask you any questions they may have. Most likely, they will come around in their own time.
Overall, willingness to connect with your teen is key in supporting their well-being. You can do this by engaging in family time that won’t invade their privacy. Once a week set aside some time to spend with your children with no distractions. This could be having a game night, a movie marathon, or even a family dinner.
Teens will be more apt to engage in activities versus tough conversations. This keeps your interactions enjoyable and establishes new memories for your new life. Having routine family time also provides your teen with security, which will allow them to thrive outside of the home as well.
This is easier said than done. To the best of your ability, keeping a positive attitude around your teen shows you are strong and can handle anything life throws your way. In good times and bad, you are their first role model. Modeling optimism will promote resilience, and ultimately, show your kids that it will all be ok.
Many problems that arise can be solved by having an honest, communicative relationship with your teen. Remember that you will not be able to see what your teen is going through as easily as you would with a younger child. While younger children may cry or throw tantrums, teenagers tend to be more reserved about their feelings. Following these 5 steps can help you and your teen make the most of your new life.