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Don’t underestimate the effect of your divorce on your teen

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2022 | Child Custody

Many divorcing parents of teens think their break-up will affect them less than if they were still children. After all, sometimes teens seem to want little or nothing to do with their parents and to have little interest in what goes on in their parents’ lives. Beyond that, teens can better understand the concept of romantic break-ups than children do.

Nonetheless, parental divorce isn’t easy at any age. It affects them, and they know it. Teens may not display their feelings the same way as young children. That doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing emotional turmoil that can affect all aspects of their lives. If you have a teen, you and your co-parent can help make things easier on them.

Don’t overshare

Parents of teens often make the mistake of sharing too much about the reasons for the break-up with them. Even if you’re especially close to your child and you think of yourselves as “best friends,” you aren’t. 

Don’t confide in your child any details about your divorce that can make them uncomfortable or think less of their other parent. One co-parenting coach explains that sharing intimate details with a teen will “rob them of their childhood because you are putting them in an adult conversation that they are not prepared for emotionally or psychologically.” 

Watch for signs that your teen is in distress

While teens may not cry or scream at you about the divorce, there are plenty of other ways they can let you know that they’re suffering. Some teens turn their anger inward and others outward. 

Watch for changes in their sleeping, eating or study habits. Some teens who feel a loss of control over their lives act out at school or get into fights with friends, siblings or teammates. Others turn to drugs, alcohol or sex. Some manipulate one parent against the other.

Maintain consistent rules and expectations

Children of all ages do better when their parents can at least agree on what’s best for them. That means having basically the same expectations for them across both homes. Resist the temptation to be the “favorite” parent by relaxing rules and boundaries.

Don’t neglect to spend the time you need creating a thorough parenting plan just because you’ll only have your child at home for a few more years. These years are crucial to how they’ll do as adults.