Helping a teen cope during your divorce is a unique challenge. Older children are more likely to be rebellious and keep their feelings hidden, and of course, they are going through their own things at this stage.
Typically, the younger the child, the more likely they are to cry and show emotion. It can be more difficult to read your teens, because they may not show obvious signs of stress and heartache. Here are some tips on how to help your teen during divorce.
Deal with the behavioral changes properly.
Your teen may start showing marked behavioral changes. It is essential to deal with those behavioral changes right away; putting it off can escalate or form an unhealthy habit. Teens may start to act up at school. Some examples of behavior changes are skipping class, being disrespectful to teachers and students and earning poorer grades. Although divorce is not an excuse, strive to understand and find a solution to these behavioral changes.
Give your teen your undivided attention.
Schedule one-on-one activities with your teen with no distractions such as smartphones or a younger sibling. You might go for a walk and talk or go to lunch, whatever activity you will enjoy. The idea is to give your child your undivided attention so he or she doesn’t feel forgotten.
Keep your dating life private.
This is different for every parent, of course. For some, it may be impossible to start thinking about dating someone new and for others, the idea sounds great. Regardless, keep your dating life private at first. If your relationship becomes serious enough for introductions, that’s one thing, but you may have a lot of first dates at the beginning, and it’s difficult for your teenagers to witness you moving on from their mother/father.
Decide on a steady schedule.
A steady schedule is critical for kids of any age during divorce. And really, it’s only fair. This modicum of stability in an otherwise unsteady time can make a huge difference. Depending on your teen’s maturity level and your situation, you might ask him/her about schedule preferences. Let your teen know you are listening to what they have to say.
For more information about coping with your divorce, register for our next workshop.