Helping teens through their parents’ divorce

Divorce is challenging for all members of a family, including children. Unfortunately, some New York parents use their children as go-betweens or even weapons against each other. This can be especially problematic for children and interfere with their ability to healthfully cope with the changes in their lives. While some parents recognize this potential issue with younger children, they might forget that divorce is hard on teenagers, too.

Effects of divorce on teens

Divorcing parents sometimes forget their teens are still children. Since they are more independent, some parents wrongfully lean on their teens for emotional support and expect them to assume additional duties in helping to raise the parents’ younger children. Parents should not do either of these things because it makes it more difficult for teens to cope. Divorce can impact a teen in the following ways:

  • Falling grades
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Anger and defiance
  • Risk-taking behaviors

Helping your teen during and after divorce

There are several things you can do to help your teen both during and after your divorce. Never talk about your ex in a derogatory way to your teen or where they can overhear you even if you are going through complex child custody issues. Remember your ex is also your teen’s parent, and encourage them to continue a good relationship. Encourage your teen to share their feelings without judgment. Go to their after-school events, offer support, and model the types of behavior you’d like to see from them.

Teenagers should not have added responsibilities thrown onto them just because their parents are divorcing. Instead, they should be encouraged to express their fears and provided the affection they deserve. If you spend time helping your teen through the major adjustments a divorce can bring, you might be able to help them avoid some of the setbacks that could otherwise occur.