Jan 06 2023
Going through a divorce or separation is a turbulent time, with a wealth of emotions going around on all fronts. It’s no secret that navigating through this is a monolithic task, and we are not always going to do our best.
Yet, for parents of adolescent teens, this time can be difficult for a much different reason. Unlike young children, adolescent teens have the emotional capacity to comprehend fully what is going on. Sadly, they are rarely equipped with the emotional maturity, and introspective tools, to process this healthily.
This can leave adolescents in a rough spot when it comes to adjusting to this new reality of their parental unit. As parents, it can often be difficult to fully understand what our adolescent children are feeling, and how to best help them cope.
Today we’ll be exploring what research into adolescent adjustment to parental divorce has shown us when it comes to understanding how your child may feel, how to best support them and help put them on the right path to processing this tectonic shift in their lives.
Just like their parents, an adolescent teen will be feeling and thinking a lot during this time. For some, this may be the first major change in their entire lives. Let’s cover what your child may be feeling, and what their practical concerns maybe once they learn the news.
It’s important to note: These feelings and concerns, on the surface, may seem short-sighted, selfish, and perhaps even annoying or stupid given the context of your divorce or separation. However, the human mind is rarely a purely rational being.
It’s vital that you don’t pass judgement on how your child may be feeling, or what they are thinking. In a lot of ways, your child will be in crisis mode.
Let’s discuss how to address these feelings and concerns down below.
There is a range of methods you can employ to help your adolescent child adjust, and they’re not difficult.
Let’s explore them one by one:
It will be simpler for your child to adjust to the change in your family if they can maintain their daily routine, continue living in the same home or neighbourhood, attend the same school, and continue participating in usual activities like sports.
Being exposed to hostility and constant disagreement between you and your child’s other parent is bad for your child’s mental health.
Therefore, it’s preferable if you can refrain from discussing the problems of the separation with your child or disparaging their former parent. When your youngster isn’t there, speak to a friend or member of your family if you need to vent your irritation. Another option is to speak with a counsellor.
Your adolescent will need the opportunity to voice their thoughts once you have had your say. This might happen when you initially speak to them or afterwards when they’ve had some time to reflect.
This can help them better manage challenging emotions and worries by talking about them. Active listening may also assist you in determining the best way to soothe your kid when they are ready to speak.
Your child may express the desire to chat with another trusted adult, such as an aunt or uncle, a family friend, a teacher, or a counsellor if they find it difficult to talk to you about the separation. This is perfectly healthy, and you shouldn’t take this personally.
Teenagers will often be feeling a lot of emotions, and have a lot of questions about their future. Regardless of what they’re feeling or thinking, it’s important that you’re there to reassure them, and have an honest conversation about their concerns.
Your child will need to be reassured, often several times. You may find you can’t provide reassurance for everything, but continue to be honest and open with them. Providing them with a space to get reassurance when they need it.
There is no secret trick or hack to helping your adolescent adjust to a divorce or separation. Simply being present, open, and honest are the key pillars that will help your child to navigate this difficult time.
As parents, this can be overwhelming. Rest assured that there is no shortage of support out there for you as well. We all need a helping hand, and research has shown countless times that a strong support network is beneficial for everyone.
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