Talking With Your Teenager About Divorce

Reviewed Feb 13, 2018

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Summary

  • Maintain comforting rituals or gestures.
  • Foster a strong parent-teen relationship.
  • Be prepared for an intense reaction.
  • Do not use him as a sounding board or confidant.

When telling your teen about your divorce or separation, be prepared for an intense reaction. Your child may be angry and unwilling to talk or be comforted. He may seem distant, but it is important to check in with him, ask how he is feeling, invite him to talk or simply remain available to him and do not judge him for his anger.

Divorce specialists also suggest the following:

  • Tell your teenager together. This shows that although the marriage is over, you will both continue to provide parental support.
  • Tell your child on a weekend, and give a few weeks' notice. Try to be available as your teen deals with the news and any lifestyle or residential changes.
  • Share as much information as possible about any changes on the horizon for the family, but not specifics about adult reasons for the divorce.

Smoothing the transition

Maintaining close ties with at least one parent, good limit setting, open communication, joint decision-making and low conflict on the home front will provide the stability and security your teen needs to adapt and rebound. Be careful to:

  • Make an extra effort to be warm and affectionate with your teen to help lessen the loss she feels.
  • Be respectful of your ex-spouse's role as a parent and its significance to your child. Bad-mouthing your ex puts a tremendous strain on your child.
  • Maintain as normal a routine as possible.
  • Talk to your teenager's teachers and let them know what is going on at home so that they may be supportive. Ask that they contact you if they see signs of trouble or distress.
  • Encourage the continued involvement of the nonresidential parent. It is very important to the teen's social adjustment and educational future for the nonresidential parent to stay connected by frequent conversations and specific, regular activities.

Help your teen by helping yourself

Parenting a teen can be difficult in the best of circumstances, and an enormous challenge for a newly single parent handling her own distress. Your child may be an important source of comfort during the divorce, but do not use him as a sounding board or confidant. It may make him feel he has to choose sides. Instead, call upon your family and friends to support you during this difficult transition, so that you can be there for your child.

You also might consider joining a support group for single parents, frequently offered through churches, synagogues or community centers. Individual or family counseling, even on a short-term basis, can help you through the transition, too.  

Summary

  • Maintain comforting rituals or gestures.
  • Foster a strong parent-teen relationship.
  • Be prepared for an intense reaction.
  • Do not use him as a sounding board or confidant.

When telling your teen about your divorce or separation, be prepared for an intense reaction. Your child may be angry and unwilling to talk or be comforted. He may seem distant, but it is important to check in with him, ask how he is feeling, invite him to talk or simply remain available to him and do not judge him for his anger.

Divorce specialists also suggest the following:

  • Tell your teenager together. This shows that although the marriage is over, you will both continue to provide parental support.
  • Tell your child on a weekend, and give a few weeks' notice. Try to be available as your teen deals with the news and any lifestyle or residential changes.
  • Share as much information as possible about any changes on the horizon for the family, but not specifics about adult reasons for the divorce.

Smoothing the transition

Maintaining close ties with at least one parent, good limit setting, open communication, joint decision-making and low conflict on the home front will provide the stability and security your teen needs to adapt and rebound. Be careful to:

  • Make an extra effort to be warm and affectionate with your teen to help lessen the loss she feels.
  • Be respectful of your ex-spouse's role as a parent and its significance to your child. Bad-mouthing your ex puts a tremendous strain on your child.
  • Maintain as normal a routine as possible.
  • Talk to your teenager's teachers and let them know what is going on at home so that they may be supportive. Ask that they contact you if they see signs of trouble or distress.
  • Encourage the continued involvement of the nonresidential parent. It is very important to the teen's social adjustment and educational future for the nonresidential parent to stay connected by frequent conversations and specific, regular activities.

Help your teen by helping yourself

Parenting a teen can be difficult in the best of circumstances, and an enormous challenge for a newly single parent handling her own distress. Your child may be an important source of comfort during the divorce, but do not use him as a sounding board or confidant. It may make him feel he has to choose sides. Instead, call upon your family and friends to support you during this difficult transition, so that you can be there for your child.

You also might consider joining a support group for single parents, frequently offered through churches, synagogues or community centers. Individual or family counseling, even on a short-term basis, can help you through the transition, too.  

Summary

  • Maintain comforting rituals or gestures.
  • Foster a strong parent-teen relationship.
  • Be prepared for an intense reaction.
  • Do not use him as a sounding board or confidant.

When telling your teen about your divorce or separation, be prepared for an intense reaction. Your child may be angry and unwilling to talk or be comforted. He may seem distant, but it is important to check in with him, ask how he is feeling, invite him to talk or simply remain available to him and do not judge him for his anger.

Divorce specialists also suggest the following:

  • Tell your teenager together. This shows that although the marriage is over, you will both continue to provide parental support.
  • Tell your child on a weekend, and give a few weeks' notice. Try to be available as your teen deals with the news and any lifestyle or residential changes.
  • Share as much information as possible about any changes on the horizon for the family, but not specifics about adult reasons for the divorce.

Smoothing the transition

Maintaining close ties with at least one parent, good limit setting, open communication, joint decision-making and low conflict on the home front will provide the stability and security your teen needs to adapt and rebound. Be careful to:

  • Make an extra effort to be warm and affectionate with your teen to help lessen the loss she feels.
  • Be respectful of your ex-spouse's role as a parent and its significance to your child. Bad-mouthing your ex puts a tremendous strain on your child.
  • Maintain as normal a routine as possible.
  • Talk to your teenager's teachers and let them know what is going on at home so that they may be supportive. Ask that they contact you if they see signs of trouble or distress.
  • Encourage the continued involvement of the nonresidential parent. It is very important to the teen's social adjustment and educational future for the nonresidential parent to stay connected by frequent conversations and specific, regular activities.

Help your teen by helping yourself

Parenting a teen can be difficult in the best of circumstances, and an enormous challenge for a newly single parent handling her own distress. Your child may be an important source of comfort during the divorce, but do not use him as a sounding board or confidant. It may make him feel he has to choose sides. Instead, call upon your family and friends to support you during this difficult transition, so that you can be there for your child.

You also might consider joining a support group for single parents, frequently offered through churches, synagogues or community centers. Individual or family counseling, even on a short-term basis, can help you through the transition, too.  

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2018 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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