Helping Your Teen Get Through a Divorce: 4 Tips

No parent really wants to talk about divorce when he or she has a child at home. For most, it would be preferable to have a child "leave the nest" before getting a divorce, but that might not be an option.

As someone with a teen at home, it's in your best interests to do all you can to make your teenager as comfortable with the idea of divorce as possible. Here are a few tips.

1. Discuss the divorce in terms he or she understands

The first thing you need to do is to sit down with your teen and talk about the divorce. You don't need to explain why you're getting a divorce, but you should discuss how the divorce is going to be handled. For example, if you and your spouse are on good terms and are splitting up over the course of the next year during a trial separation, discuss this and its implications. Likewise, if you and your spouse aren't on good terms, explain that you and your spouse won't be seeing each other but that you both intend to take an active role in parenting your child as usual.

2. Get feedback from your teenager

After you discuss what your divorce situation looks like, you need to listen to what your teen has to say. Older teens may not be as angry or disrupted by the idea of a divorce as younger teens, but only you know your child and what kind of response to expect. Listen to what your teen has to say, good and bad, without prejudice.

3. Give your teen a way to vent

There's a likelihood that your teen could be angry or hurt by the idea of a divorce, so you do need to give your teen a way to vent. Does he or she want to watch TV, go to a movie or play a sport? How about spending time at a friend's house? Even if you feel you want to talk to your teen more, you need to give him or her space to vent feelings and come to terms with the divorce.

4. Make time for your teenage kid

Finally, make it known that you are there for your teen and won't abandon him or her. While older teenagers are already exploring their independence, those at 13 or 14 may not yet understand what they want to do in life or how to process a divorce. They're already going through changes, and this is one extra -- and significant -- change that adds to the frustration. Make sure you make time for your teen and do things that aren't related to the divorce, like spending a day away shopping or going to an event together.

These are a few tips that can help your teen adjust to the idea of divorce. With patience, you can get through a difficult time together.

Categories: Family Law