How To Help Your Teen Cope With The Effects Of Divorce

When it comes to divorce it is often infants and younger children who are given the most consideration in terms of their physical needs and emotional well-being, but it is important to remember that the situation can be equally impactful on teenage children. They are at a very sensitive, transitional phase in their lives and achieving an amicable divorce is central to helping them to navigate some of the disruptions that a divorce will inevitably bring. 

how to help a teenager through divorce

Communication 

It is vital that older children are kept informed of pending changes in their lives, especially those which will bring about changes that affect them. Both parents will preferably be reassuring them that, although some changes are unavoidable, they will always maintain those important relationships with their children. Using an open line of communication to reassure adolescents that they will not lose contact with either parent or extended family as a result is key and needs to be a consistent message from both sides, reinforced by actions as much as possible.  

Routine 

One of the best ways to reduce the negative impact of divorce on teenagers is to work together as much as possible with your estranged spouse to maintain as much of their regular routine as possible e.g. Sports practices, dance rehearsals, and diarised visits to family/friends etc. This reduces the experience of upheaval and reassures the adolescent that actually, most things will continue just the same. If it’s possible to continue attending events together amicably then that is also to be encouraged.

Living arrangements

Teenagers need to be actively included and involved in the discussions about how, when and where they are going to reside. Ensure the arrangements are agreed upon and clear to everyone. Teenagers will value the stability that this allows. Any proposed changes to the agreed arrangements should always be discussed between both parents as well as your teenage dependent. Make sure that the arrangements are as fair, consistent and manageable as possible to maximise their chances of being successfully maintained. 

Legal Advice/Mediation 

If you are struggling with any aspect of facilitating care and living arrangements for your teenage child, do seek professional advice. It is advisable to utilise the services of a good mediation provider if there are any bones of contention. This not only helps in the initial phase but can also provide a useful footprint with which to approach any future obstacles or points of difference. It also models a healthy way of resolving problems for your children and teaches them that dialogue and compromise are the best way to achieve positive outcomes.

Top Tips

  • Don’t ignore the situation and think it will work itself out on its own – keep the lines of communication open.
  • Try not to blame the other parent for the marriage in front of your teen – this can generate resentment towards both of you.
  • Make sure your teenager knows that the situation is not their fault, sometimes they can blame themselves unnecessarily, especially when they don’t understand exactly what is going on.
  • Both parents should spend as much quality time with them to reassure them they are not going anywhere. If there are new partners involved, try not to introduce them to the equation until your teenager’s home life and care pattern is more settled. 

Support services

Other sources of information and support are also available. CAFCASS is the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, they offer guidance and a parenting plan, and put the child at the centre of their support. Relate provides counselling for children and young people and Young Minds is another source of support for parents and children.

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