Experiencing the divorce of parents can be difficult for people of all ages to endure, but it can be especially challenging during the teenage years when there are already so many changes happening. Not only is it a time of rapid physical development and deep emotional changes, there are also social changes such as attending secondary school, spending more time with peers, and being introduced to the challenges of growing up in the world.
In today’s post, we are going to be providing some advice for parents who are going through divorce so that they can make this difficult time easier on their teenager(s). And while there is no easy solution to helping your teenager cope with it, if you have built a healthy foundation with them prior to the divorce, it is likely that your relationship will improve in time. If you need further assistance or would like to work with a family lawyer during this difficult time, contact the Law Office of Diron Rutty in the Bronx today.
Communication is Key
While this rule works for most things in life, properly communicating with your teen is crucial. First off, do your best to ensure that you are not engaging in conflict with your ex around your teen. If you are feeling an argument arising while you are around your teenager, tell your partner that you will revisit the discussion later or drop it altogether and wait to talk later on. This way, you can model self-control and being cordial with each other.
It is also important not to bad mouth your ex with your teenager. During this phase of life, they are already experiencing a wide range of emotions and feelings that are brand new to them, and the last thing they will want to hear is negative comments about his or her other parent. This can lead to loyalty conflicts, which, in turn, often causes emotional pain and turmoil, feeling like they need to pick a side.
Be an Active Listener
When kids feel valued by their parents, they will value them in return. Teens are already under a lot of pressure and stress at school and in peer relationships, so you need to be available to listen to them when they need you. Give them your undivided attention — turn off your cell phone, go somewhere private if needed, and let them tell you how they are feeling without any judgment. Let them know how much each of you loves them and that they have nothing to do with what is happening in regards to the divorce.
Promoting a Healthy Bond Between Teenagers and Parents
It is important to be flexible with your expectations about scheduling time for your teenager at both houses. While a structured plan may work better during childhood, teenagers often have busy schedules with school, sports, friends, and other activities where a structured schedule may not be the most ideal scenario. Work with your ex to find the best system for the both of you, and be sure to keep your child out of the conversation when these discussions are being made in order to help them experience fewer divided loyalties.
Model Trustworthy Behavior and Consistency
As your teen grows and develops more confidence in you, he or she will be able to trust others better into adulthood. This is why it is crucial to be there for your child when you need them and be consistent about it. While this is likely also a very difficult time for you as well, let your child know that everything is okay. Staying strong through a difficult time like this will allow your teenager to see that everything is okay and feel more stable and comfortable at home.
Seek Professional Help If Needed
Adolescence is often a very difficult stage in life and can be exaggerated by the multitude of changes that come with parental divorce. Some red flags to keep an eye out for include grades dropping in school, losing friends, mood swings, showing intense anger, rage, or other radical behavior changes, or developing frequent physical ailments such as stomach aches, headaches, sleep problems, or eating disorders. If this is the case, be sure to speak with a professional for guidance on steps to take in order to improve the issues at hand.
When trying to help your teenager cope with the difficulties of divorce, be sure to try and come up with dun ways to spend time together that you both will enjoy that will also help them to put their focus elsewhere, such as a hike or a movie night. Even encourage them to invite their friends to join! The problems that arise can be more easily resolved when you have a quality relationship with your teenager. Last, but not least, promote your child’s resiliency by showing optimism and hope for the future.
If you have any questions or are interested in working with a professional family lawyer to assist you through the divorce process, be sure to give us a call at the Law Office of Diron Rutty in the Bronx today. We proudly serve those located in the New York City area with family law, estate planning, immigration law, and more, and would be more than happy to help you and your family in any way we can. We always have your best interests at heart and will go the extra mile to make any of these processes less stressful for both you and your family.