If you’re about to get a divorce, not only are you feeling emotions such as anger, guilt and aloneness, so is your teenager. A divorce with teenagers involved may seem challenging but following some tips and advice on what to expect, what to do and what not do to will get you and your teen through the process.
Teens and Divorce – What to Expect
Teen years are one of the most difficult and misunderstood times for both the teenager and the parents. Teens deal with peer pressure, trying to fit in at school, changing bodies, rising sexuality and learning to be in relationships, and many other life challenges this age group brings. It’s also a hard time for parents, especially when understanding and identifying a teen’s feelings, attitudes and trends, along with monitoring the technology and devices teens are involved in these days.
First, recognize upfront that your teen may feel he or she is responsible for the divorce and exhibit guilt or “blame me” behaviors. They may also act out in unusual ways you’re not used to seeing, like a great student who turns into one that refuses to do homework or obey curfew times. During a divorce, a teen may even attempt to gain the favor of one parent and dismiss the other. Expect some unexpected behaviors.
What to Do
With the frustration your teen is exhibiting or hiding, you and your soon-to-be ex need to do what you can to help him or her through the process. Often, individual and family counseling can be very helpful to teens facing your divorce issues. Put aside any anger issues you and your ex have and remember the teen is someone you both love and care for and agree to disagree in order to get them they help they will invariably need.
Talk to school teachers and guidance counselors and inform them of the divorce so they are not surprised with unexpected behavior at school. If your teen has close relationships with extended family, you might ask for grandparents to help advise your teen – they are wise folks and most teens trust and relate to them – even a close relative such as an aunt or uncle is a great solution. Your divorce attorney may have suggestions as well, and friends who have been through a divorce with a teen may have helpful ideas.
What Not to Do
This is the area where many parents of teenagers fail during the divorce process. More often than not the teen already knows things are or were bad. They’ve heard arguments and they’re smarter than you think and have friends they talk to who have parents that are divorced already.
Skip the “your mother” or “your father” is bad, evil, hated, cheater or not a good provider. This is something your teenager doesn’t need to hear because no matter the fault, the teen loves you both. Be civil with one another when you’re both around your teen and skip the frowns or other bad facial expressions.
Don’t overcompensate with gifts or other things you wouldn’t normally offer to your teenager. This may seem like a great solution to their unhappiness but it’s only short-lived. Trying to “win over” your teenager during the divorce process is something you should not do and usually something you won’t need to do it if you and your ex remain friendly in front your teenager.
Divorcing when teenagers are part of the process will flow better if you follow these tips. Above all, if you just can’t seem to help your teen, there is always family counseling or you can enlist the help of family members on both sides.
Seattle Divorce Attorneys and Seattle Family Law Attorneys. Our Main Office serves Greater Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and Mercer Island
DuBois Cary Law Group, PLLC
927 N. Northlake Way
Seattle WA 98103