Divorce and Children: Three Ways to Help Your Teen Deal With Your Divorce
When you and your partner choose to separate, you aren't the only ones affected. In fact, your divorce can have a huge impact on your teen. Because of this, it's important that you take the necessary steps to help your teen deal with your divorce in a healthy way. Remember that even if you and your partner separate on amicable terms, your teen may feel the impact in various ways. As a result, your child could feel stressed, sad, anxious, or frustrated. All of these emotions are normal; however, it's important that you address them with your child. Talking openly about their feelings and what they can expect in the months to come is an important way of helping them cope with the new changes in their lives. During this transitional period, many teens will feel out of control or stressed, but gentle communication can help. Here's what you need to know about divorce and children especially teens.
1. Don't judge
Never judge your teen for the things they say during this time. Your teen already feels like their life is in chaos. They don't need to feel like they can't trust you or be open with you, as well. Avoid placing judgment on the situation at all, if possible. For example, don't speak poorly about your former spouse, yourself, your child, or any involved romantic parties. Instead, focus on making your teen feel safe and cared for. When you don't point fingers or place blame, your teen will naturally begin to feel more comfortable and will be more likely to open up to you. When your teen does choose to share with you, make sure you listen carefully to what your child is actually saying.
2. Be honest
Don't lie to your child about the divorce. While they don't need to know the specific causes of the divorce, especially if the separation is due to infidelity or another sensitive topic, make sure you're as open as possible with your child. Let them know early on that the divorce is happening. This way, they won't be caught off guard when you and your partner move into different homes. If your child will be living solely with one parent, discuss this. If they will be going to a different school, talk with your child. Don't hide information and don't lie to your child, as this will breed resentment and distrust.
3. Spend time together
While you'll likely be busy looking for a new job position, choosing a new home, and filing endless amounts of paperwork, make sure you find time to spend with your teenager. This will help them feel like you truly care. More importantly, it will help them feel grounded throughout this hectic time. If possible, spend time with both your former spouse and your child. If emotions are too high for that to happen, just make sure you spend regular amounts of time with your teenager. You don't have to do anything special. Sometimes just hanging out, watching a movie, or sharing a meal can make an incredible difference.
Divorce and children are a complex topic. No matter what led to your divorce, remember that you are not alone. Many parents separate from their partners and go on to lead satisfying and productive lives. More importantly, many of them develop incredible relationships with their teenagers. Divorce doesn't mean your teen has to struggle. Instead, it gives you a wonderful opportunity to focus on developing your relationship and moving forward as a family. If you have any questions concerning divorce and children call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free initial in office consultation. Peter Van Aulen has over twenty-five years of divorce and family law experience. He is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney. He has edited or written over 300 articles on family/divorce law that are located on his blog and website. Also, Peter Van Aulen has taught continuing legal education family law classes to lawyers. In November 2018 he was the Co-Chair and a Speaker at the New Jersey Association of Justice Meadowlands Seminar on Family Law. Call 201-845-7400 today to schedule a consultation.