Connecting With Your Teen After Divorce

Posted May 24, 2017

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Summary

  • Help your teenager feel at home in your new place.
  • Share interests with your teenager.
  • Keep reaching out even if your teenager is angry with you. 

Teenagers are at a difficult stage in life. They still need their parents, but they also want to strike out on their own. At times rebellious and distant, they may spend even more time with friends and away from family after a divorce. The teenager may be angry and blame one or both of the parents for the breakup.

If your divorce has strained your relationship with your teenager, don’t give up. Your child needs you, even if it doesn’t seem so.

If you have moved out

When you lived in the same home, you didn’t have to think about seeing your teen. Now it will take some effort. Visits may also feel awkward in the beginning. Here are ways to make it easier:

  • Stay in the area when you move to a new place, if possible. It will be comforting to both of you if you’re available for rides, emergencies, and spur-of-the-moment visits. 
  • If you have to move far away, schedule regular phone calls and video chats. Send cards, letters, and packages in the mail.
  • Help your teen feel at home in your new place. Ask for help decorating it. If possible, give your teen her own bedroom.
  • Buy essentials for your teen to keep at your place. A second toothbrush, toothpaste, his favorite shampoo, and conditioner will simplify packing and help him feel at home with you.
  • Be flexible about visits. Your teen’s social life is very important at this age. She may resent having to give up time with friends to be with you. Be willing to reschedule time together or let her bring a friend along on a visit from time to time.

Ways to connect

Staying close with a teenager who is trying to become independent can take creativity and persistence.

  • Share an interest with your teen, or take up one of his: Snowboarding, music, hiking, sports, dance, and theater are some activities that are fun to share.
  • Send texts for no reason other than to say “I love you” or “I’m thinking of you.”
  • Attend your teen’s sporting events, recitals, plays, school events, and other activities. She will be glad you’re there.
  • Take vacations together. Spending time outside of your normal routine builds bonds and creates memories.

When your teen is angry with you

It’s not uncommon for teens to be angry with one or both of their parents after a divorce.

  • Try to see things from his point of view. Talk with him about the divorce so you can understand his feelings. You may be able to clear up any mistaken beliefs that he has about the divorce.
  • Hold your temper. You may want to lash out in anger if your teen is disrespectful. Doing that will only fuel the fire. If you have trouble staying calm, walk away. Give yourself time to cool off, then gently but firmly tell her that you won’t tolerate disrespect.
  • Keep reaching out even if your teen doesn’t respond or doesn’t want to see you. Don’t give up. Your persistence will let your teen know that no matter what, you will always love him. 
By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: "Parental Divorce and Adolescents” by Carl E. Pickhardt, PhD. Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/200908/parental-divorce-and-adolescents

Summary

  • Help your teenager feel at home in your new place.
  • Share interests with your teenager.
  • Keep reaching out even if your teenager is angry with you. 

Teenagers are at a difficult stage in life. They still need their parents, but they also want to strike out on their own. At times rebellious and distant, they may spend even more time with friends and away from family after a divorce. The teenager may be angry and blame one or both of the parents for the breakup.

If your divorce has strained your relationship with your teenager, don’t give up. Your child needs you, even if it doesn’t seem so.

If you have moved out

When you lived in the same home, you didn’t have to think about seeing your teen. Now it will take some effort. Visits may also feel awkward in the beginning. Here are ways to make it easier:

  • Stay in the area when you move to a new place, if possible. It will be comforting to both of you if you’re available for rides, emergencies, and spur-of-the-moment visits. 
  • If you have to move far away, schedule regular phone calls and video chats. Send cards, letters, and packages in the mail.
  • Help your teen feel at home in your new place. Ask for help decorating it. If possible, give your teen her own bedroom.
  • Buy essentials for your teen to keep at your place. A second toothbrush, toothpaste, his favorite shampoo, and conditioner will simplify packing and help him feel at home with you.
  • Be flexible about visits. Your teen’s social life is very important at this age. She may resent having to give up time with friends to be with you. Be willing to reschedule time together or let her bring a friend along on a visit from time to time.

Ways to connect

Staying close with a teenager who is trying to become independent can take creativity and persistence.

  • Share an interest with your teen, or take up one of his: Snowboarding, music, hiking, sports, dance, and theater are some activities that are fun to share.
  • Send texts for no reason other than to say “I love you” or “I’m thinking of you.”
  • Attend your teen’s sporting events, recitals, plays, school events, and other activities. She will be glad you’re there.
  • Take vacations together. Spending time outside of your normal routine builds bonds and creates memories.

When your teen is angry with you

It’s not uncommon for teens to be angry with one or both of their parents after a divorce.

  • Try to see things from his point of view. Talk with him about the divorce so you can understand his feelings. You may be able to clear up any mistaken beliefs that he has about the divorce.
  • Hold your temper. You may want to lash out in anger if your teen is disrespectful. Doing that will only fuel the fire. If you have trouble staying calm, walk away. Give yourself time to cool off, then gently but firmly tell her that you won’t tolerate disrespect.
  • Keep reaching out even if your teen doesn’t respond or doesn’t want to see you. Don’t give up. Your persistence will let your teen know that no matter what, you will always love him. 
By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: "Parental Divorce and Adolescents” by Carl E. Pickhardt, PhD. Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/200908/parental-divorce-and-adolescents

Summary

  • Help your teenager feel at home in your new place.
  • Share interests with your teenager.
  • Keep reaching out even if your teenager is angry with you. 

Teenagers are at a difficult stage in life. They still need their parents, but they also want to strike out on their own. At times rebellious and distant, they may spend even more time with friends and away from family after a divorce. The teenager may be angry and blame one or both of the parents for the breakup.

If your divorce has strained your relationship with your teenager, don’t give up. Your child needs you, even if it doesn’t seem so.

If you have moved out

When you lived in the same home, you didn’t have to think about seeing your teen. Now it will take some effort. Visits may also feel awkward in the beginning. Here are ways to make it easier:

  • Stay in the area when you move to a new place, if possible. It will be comforting to both of you if you’re available for rides, emergencies, and spur-of-the-moment visits. 
  • If you have to move far away, schedule regular phone calls and video chats. Send cards, letters, and packages in the mail.
  • Help your teen feel at home in your new place. Ask for help decorating it. If possible, give your teen her own bedroom.
  • Buy essentials for your teen to keep at your place. A second toothbrush, toothpaste, his favorite shampoo, and conditioner will simplify packing and help him feel at home with you.
  • Be flexible about visits. Your teen’s social life is very important at this age. She may resent having to give up time with friends to be with you. Be willing to reschedule time together or let her bring a friend along on a visit from time to time.

Ways to connect

Staying close with a teenager who is trying to become independent can take creativity and persistence.

  • Share an interest with your teen, or take up one of his: Snowboarding, music, hiking, sports, dance, and theater are some activities that are fun to share.
  • Send texts for no reason other than to say “I love you” or “I’m thinking of you.”
  • Attend your teen’s sporting events, recitals, plays, school events, and other activities. She will be glad you’re there.
  • Take vacations together. Spending time outside of your normal routine builds bonds and creates memories.

When your teen is angry with you

It’s not uncommon for teens to be angry with one or both of their parents after a divorce.

  • Try to see things from his point of view. Talk with him about the divorce so you can understand his feelings. You may be able to clear up any mistaken beliefs that he has about the divorce.
  • Hold your temper. You may want to lash out in anger if your teen is disrespectful. Doing that will only fuel the fire. If you have trouble staying calm, walk away. Give yourself time to cool off, then gently but firmly tell her that you won’t tolerate disrespect.
  • Keep reaching out even if your teen doesn’t respond or doesn’t want to see you. Don’t give up. Your persistence will let your teen know that no matter what, you will always love him. 
By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: "Parental Divorce and Adolescents” by Carl E. Pickhardt, PhD. Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/200908/parental-divorce-and-adolescents

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