Here's How to Help Your Teenager Deal With Your Divorce

Divorce is a challenge no matter how long a marriage lasted. When children are involved, it’s even more difficult. Find out how you can help your older children learn to effectively face the divorce in a healthy way.

So you've decided to get divorced. Chances are you've talked with your partner, your friends, and possibly even your attorney, but have you talked with your child? If you're the parent of a teenager, it's important to understand your teen may be feeling a lot of different emotions during this time. When you bring up the topic of divorce, your teenager might react unpredictably. They might feel sad, angry, or even betrayed, or they might feel relieved. No matter how old your teenager is, there are a few things that you can do to talk with them about your separation.

First off, try to make sure that you and your spouse present a united front. Avoid sharing too much personal information about the divorce with your teenager, and never talk poorly about your spouse in front of your teen. While your own emotions will be running high during this time, keep in mind that this is your child's other parent. While you might feel frustration or even anger toward your spouse, your teenager still views them as someone very important and special. If possible, sit down together with your soon-to-be ex and talk with your teenager about your decision to separate. Emphasize that it is not your teen's fault, as even older teens may blame themselves for the dissolution of the marriage.

It's also important that you speak with your teen early on the in divorce process. Don't wait until the divorce is almost final to speak with your teenager. Remember that although you and your partner are separating, the decision should not be blamed on your teenager. If you put off telling your teen, they may feel unimportant or betrayed. They may feel like you don't trust them or that you blame them for the decision to separate. Your divorce will impact your teen in many ways. Even if you and your partner are able to remain civil around one another, your teen will still feel the effects of the divorce. Sit down early on and talk about what they can expect.

Aim to keep the routine in your teenager's life as stable as possible under the circumstances. While there will naturally be some adjustments, if there are areas in your teen's life which you have the power to keep the same, try to do so. For example, avoid forcing your teenager to change schools unless you absolutely must. Try to remain living in the same neighborhood. Your teen's life will be changing, but if you can keep most of your child's life the same, they will be less likely to experience stress or trauma as a result of the divorce. Maintaining your child's normal routine will help them experience stability throughout this process.

When you and your partner choose to divorce, make sure you reach out to an attorney as quickly as possible. The right Board-certified Family Law expert attorney will be able to help you review your legal options on how you can best move forward. Additionally, they'll be able to answer your questions about custody arrangements, child support payments, and even parenting plans that can further help your teen have a positive experience with the divorce.