If you’re like most parents going through divorce, you’re wondering, “Is divorce bad for kids?”
The good news is that although it can be difficult to deal with, children of divorce often bounce back while become more resilient and able to cope with life’s challenges than they were before. That’s particularly true if you’re committed to helping your teen — and using these five tips can keep your family is on the right path.
5 Ways to Help Your Teen Cope With Divorce
You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can help teenagers cope with the struggles he or she is facing during your divorce. Even if you’ve gotten off to a rough start, it’s not too late to reel things back in and help your child as best you can. Here’s the breakdown:
- Keep the peace between you and your spouse.
- Don’t involve your children in your divorce.
- Talk about (and look forward to) the future.
- Help your teen determine his or her strengths.
- Try to keep your teen’s life stable and predictable.
1. Keep the Peace to Help Your Teenager Cope With Divorce
Many experts suggest that children whose parents fight frequently (and in front of them) are better off when the two parents split up – and that’s because constant controversy causes a lot of stress, anxiety and other issues.
Teenagers find divorce that much harder when their parents are behaving poorly to each other, too.
That means you and your ex need to set aside your differences, even if only when you’re in front of your teens, so that you can soothe some of your child’s worries and minimize his or her stress. (It’s easier said than done, but it’s well worth it.)
2. Don’t Involve Your Children in Your Divorce
Teenagers are still getting to know themselves, and when parents ask them – or imply that they should – take sides, things become infinitely harder. Your kids need to feel free to spend quality time with either of you without your adult differences interfering in parent-child relationships (on either side).
If you’re struggling to come to terms with hurt you may have caused, or if you need to learn new strategies to help you cope with what you’re going through, you may benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist. The same is true for your children; depression in teens is a serious medical condition, but even if you don’t feel your teen is depressed or anxious in a medical sense, it can’t hurt to talk to an impartial third party.
3. Talk About (and Look Forward to) the Future
A lot of teens worry that their future relationships will be affected by their parents’ divorces, but many also worry about other plans – like college, visiting grandparents over the summer, and other activities that could be impacted by parents trimming down to single-income households.
Talk to your teen about his or her upcoming plans in a positive light. Make sure your child knows that you and your ex are willing to do what it takes to co-parent effectively, including making sure he or she gets a good education and is still able to have a quality family life.
4. Help Your Teen Determine His or Her Strengths
Some teenagers are better at coping with stress than others are, and that’s okay. Help your teen figure out his or her best coping mechanisms and have an “open-door” policy that lets your child know you’re always available to talk about his or her concerns.
Another way to help your teen focus on his or her strengths is to come up with better (or easier) methods of communication. Some kids shut down during conflict, while others dive right into the fray – but you want your child to learn how to effectively communicate through conflicts without picking up bad habits for the future. Experts suggest having a cool-down period before discussing major issues, teaching your teen that his or her concerns matter, or writing letters to parents to avoid face-to-face confrontation or emotional stresses.
5. Try to Keep Your Teen’s Life Stable and Predictable
Teenagers thrive on predictability. It’s how they know what to expect from you and your ex, and how trust is developed. By keeping your teen’s life as stable and predictable as possible, you’ll prevent a tremendous amount of stress and pressure.
Do You Need to Talk to a Stockton Divorce Attorney?
If you’re thinking about divorce, or if your spouse has already filed for a divorce, we can help you.