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Helping Your Teen Navigate Your Divorce

Divorce is often a difficult transition for families: for you as an adult, and certainly for your teenager if only in part due to their age.  Divorce may be the most significant/ difficult event you’ve gone through, and so all the more for someone whose had much fewer years of life experience than you and much less perspective to trust that things will get better.


Tips re Your Teen’s Feelings:
  • Be sensitive to your teen’s feelings, which may at times come out as anger toward you or their siblings.  It can help to normalize and speak to what may be underlying that anger.
  • Encourage them that you would like to hear about their feelings, if and when they are ready.  Remain available without prying.
  • Encourage your teen’s social support system by allowing them to see and communicate with their friends often, and continue to participate in their usual extra-curricular activities; this will help keep some normalcy though they (and you) are going through a lot of other changes right now.
  • With your teen’s permission, tell the other adults in your teen’s life (teachers?, best friend’s parent?) about the divorce.  It is sometimes a relief for kids to not have to tell everyone this information, and these adults may be able to be a support to your teen.
  • Spend quality one-on-one time with each of your children on a regular basis, not just talking about the divorce
  • I would strongly consider professional counseling or a support group for your teen during this transition, but you can see what your teen thinks about this idea.


Tips re Household Changes:

  • Try to minmize the changes your teen will go through after the divorce/ separation as much as possible, including changing schools or sports/ activities they are used to doing, as multiple changes at once can feel destabilizing, especially in this time of so much transition anyways.
  • Many children and teens are concerned about what will happen with their pets, so be sure to address that as well, whatever you decide. If possible, it tends to help if the pet also switches back and forth homes when your child does.
  • Be consistent and follow through; say what you mean and mean what you say
  • Allow for some flexiblity but overall have your teen keep up with their chores and responsibilities at home.


Supporting Your Own Needs: 

  • Take care of yourself and your emotional needs at this time, outside from your children.  Rely on friends, family, therapist, and the like, and stay away from confiding in or venting to your teenager about the divorce
  • Understand that your teen may want more quality time with you/ family time with you and may feel threatened by the appearance of new people in your life or your attention being diverted to others.  It is important that you socialize, however it’s good to prioritize family time