Divorce is never easy for children, and it is even more difficult for teenagers. When parents end their marriage, it is common for certain teen issues to surface. Issues may include declining grades or overall academic achievement, insomnia, anger at one or both parents, eating disorders, and behavioral problems. In a worst-case scenario, teens may begin experimenting with alcohol, drugs, or sex. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare your teen to help minimize the impact of the divorce and perhaps prevent serious issues.
Helping Your Teen Cope with Divorce
Being open with your teenager is critical during this trying time. Sometimes, what troubles teens the most is not the divorce per se, but the ancillary issues surrounding it. That may mean selling the house and moving to a different area or school district. If it is possible for your teen to remain in the same school system, do your best during the divorce proceedings to make that a reality. Even if the divorce is amicable, the family unit is permanently broken. Losing school, neighborhood, and friend connections may heavily impact your teen.
Teens want answers, and providing them is often painful. That is especially true if things seemed relatively calm on the outside, and the divorce comes as a surprise. If the marriage ended because one spouse had an affair, let your teen know, but do not go into the sordid details. However, do not bad mouth the other parent. They are still your teen’s mother or father, and may cohabit with them half of the time. Also, do not ask your teen about whether the other parent is seeing someone or any other information that may relate to the divorce.
Keep to Routines
If your teen is now living in two different households, work with your ex-spouse to keep a routine as much as possible. Teenagers need structure, and when the parents are divorcing, structure is more important than ever. If the other parent does not stick to routines, do not make the same mistake. For teens, discipline is a form of security in an insecure time.
Seeking Professional Help
If your teen is acting out or having a hard time accepting the divorce, seek professional help. A therapist or social worker familiar with teens and divorce can provide necessary counseling. In many situations, a third party uninvolved with family drama can provide better direction than a parent dealing with their own stresses due to divorce.
Contact our New Jersey attorneys at (856) 512-1461 for your free consultation.