If you’re preparing for a divorce, there are several things to prepare for. In addition to hiring an experienced and empathetic Denver divorce attorney, it’s also essential to work closely with your family to see how you can support them throughout the process. While a divorce is difficult for everyone that is impacted, it can be particularly challenging for teens. With school, work, friendships, romances, and the potential for mental health struggles, teens already have a lot on their plates. That’s why it’s essential to know what to do to help your teen if you’re going through the divorce process.
But how do you begin? Luckily, there are many practical ways you can help your teen so that your family can come out on the other side of this experience stronger than ever. Here, we’re taking a closer look at ways to help your teen deal with a divorce. While this process is never easy, these methods can provide guidance in a time of need.
Why Teens Need Your Support During a Divorce
While a divorce can feel like a highly personal experience (which it is, of course) it’s important to remember how this grueling process will impact everyone in the family. From spouses to grandparents and children, everyone in a family is affected by the impact of a divorce. But, of course, there are ways you can work to lessen this impact, especially for your own children, to help your family unit remain communicative and happy. Sure, your family may look different after a divorce, but there are countless examples of spouses who have made this work for their families.
Teens, of course, can be a particular challenge as they are already experiencing so many unique challenges. From school, activities, and work, to dealing with friendships and romantic relationships, there’s already a lot on the plate for teens. Not only that, but studies show that more and more teens are experiencing mental health issues that can make even the simplest of activities a challenge. Whether it be depression, anxiety, or even bipolar disorder, teens are experiencing a range of mental health problems. Luckily, however, there are many treatment options available, such as mental health facilities for teens, that can often effectively treat these mental health conditions to help your teen lead a happy and productive life.
But even if your teen isn’t experiencing a mental health problem, the trials of the process and the challenge of seeing their parents get divorced can seem overwhelming. That’s why it’s so critical to do everything you can to help your teens through this process. During a divorce, teens may isolate themselves, make rash decisions, or act more rebellious than you may expect. It’s important to be patient, make yourself available, and do what you can to work with your spouse to focus on what matters most: your children.
How to Help Teens Deal with Divorce
Looking for ways that you can help your teen during the divorce process? Consider these tips to provide the support, care, and attention they need:
- Don’t pull them between you and your spouse: while some teens act very mature, it’s important to remember that they are still your child, and as such, quite influential. Divorce can quickly become a messy affair between spouses, but you should never try to pull your child in between you and your spouse. Don’t view them as a bargaining chip and don’t try to force them to pick a side. While issues of child custody and child support can make this more challenging, remember what’s most important.
- Listen to your teen: as simple as it may sound, this tip is often overlooked. Don’t simply tell your teen what they should be doing (or feeling) during the divorce process. Instead, try to see the situation from their perspective. Take the time to sit down and listen to their thoughts, feelings, and how they understand the divorce. You don’t even necessarily need to have all the answers. Simply making this gesture to sit down and listen can go a long way.
- Don’t lean on them too much: during such a challenging time, you may be tempted to lean emotionally on your teen. While it’s wonderful that they can offer support, you shouldn’t rely too much on them. After all, they’ll be looking to you to provide support and guidance.
- Be flexible, but set limits: during this time, it may be beneficial to provide your teen with a bit more flexibility than normal. Allow them to spend more time with friends, pursue a new activity or hobby, or take that trip with a friend they had been planning for a while. Giving them a little more space to breathe can help them process the complexities of a divorce and perhaps even find a healthy distraction. However, it’s essential not to let this go too far. Be flexible, but set firm limits at the same time. Don’t let them totally take control of their schedules or stay out all night. Setting clear limits will let them know that you’re still engaged in their day-to-day.
- Be an example: when parents split up, teens may lose trust in adults in general. Don’t let them. Serve as an example of how they should behave and how they should expect adults to behave. Stay consistent and let your actions speak for you as you work to help restore your teen’s faith in trustworthy adults.
Conclusion – How to Help Teens Deal with Divorce
There’s no doubt that a divorce can be one of the emotionally challenging, trying (and not to mention expensive) processes that someone can endure. Remember that, during a divorce, everyone is impacted, especially teenagers and young children. When it seems like the family is falling apart, be sure that you’re there to support them each step of the way. Listen to them, serve as a positive example of how adults should behave, and provide some flexibility while still keeping solid boundaries. These methods can help both you and your teen endure the divorce process and come out even stronger.