Supporting Your Teen Mentally As You Go Through Divorce
No matter why a marriage comes to an end, it's a dramatic life change that will require great physical and emotional strength to get through. The family you have come to know is changing and whether the split was for the best or not, it can hit hard. This is especially true for your children. Not fully old enough to understand the ins and outs of the relationship they often see themselves as the source of your relationship's demise.
As a parent, though you're going through your own emotions it is essential that you try to be there for your children during this transition. This is especially true for teenagers. Younger children are often more vocal and will ask questions and express their emotions outwardly. Teenagers, on the other hand, will pretend to be okay while trying to handle their overwhelming emotions in silence.
On the outside, your teen seems very strong and independent. Yet, you'll notice that they start to isolate themselves, acting out in school, lashing out at their younger siblings, and even becoming defiant with you. Some teenagers even resort to abusing substances as a means of rebellion. If your teen has reached this point it is necessary for you to look into adolescent addiction treatment in California or near where you live for help.
Getting Them Through
How can you help your teen get through this life-altering change? Below are some suggestions:
Make Changes Slowly - There are a lot of changes that come with a divorce that you and your children will have to deal with. They may need to move to a new town, enroll in a new school, leave their pets, etc. As best you can, try to make these changes slowly so that your teen has time to adjust. For example, allow them to finish the school year before moving out of the area.
Keep Rules in Place Despite Pushback - Anger and resentment are very common emotions for teens to have when hearing about a divorce. They may become angry with their parents for "ruining their lives" and act out as a result. Do the best you can to understand that they're just trying to figure out how to express themselves, but don't become a pushover. If your teenagers are rebelling in a way that puts you, your other children, or them in harm's way, you need to react. Any rules you have set in place for defiance should be followed despite your circumstances.
Gather Support - Unfortunately, your teenager is not always going to be interested in talking to you about the divorce. In some instances, they don't want to feel like a burden and in others, they simply don't feel safe. That's why it is important to find outside support for them to talk to. This can be a family member, mentor, family friend, or, if necessary, a therapist. At least you know your child has someone safe to open up to as they go through this difficult time.
Spend Quality Time - You're going through a lot right now but it is important to find time to spend with your teenager. Schedule some one-on-one time where the two of you do something fun. Don't make the divorce the topic of discussion unless your teen brings it up. Simply enjoy the time and find ways to express your love so that your teenager can begin to heal.
Take Care of You - Yes, it is important to tend to the emotional well-being of your children as you go through a divorce. However, if you're not taking care of yourself during this process, it will impact your entire family. Make sure that you're eating, getting sleep, seeking therapy, and showing your children how to adapt to a new normal. Seeing that you are okay can help ease some of your child's pressure while also encouraging them to do the same.
Divorce is never easy. Whether you decided to split amicably, the relationship was toxic, or it was a complete surprise, it's hard to deal with the reality that something you thought would last forever has come to an end. As you go through your divorce, remember that your children are also suffering. Using the advice above, do your best to be there for them physically and mentally so you can all heal as a family.