Teenagers are nearly independent. They’re approaching the age when they need their parents less and less. This independence may be spurred on more quickly if you and your spouse divorce.
When you go through a divorce, children may feel they need to do more for themselves right away. Why? Some teens may feel it will reduce conflict if they can take care of themselves without bothering either of their parents. Others withdraw and try not to stand out, so they can avoid having conversations with their parents.
As a parent, what can you do to reduce the impact of a divorce on your teen?
There are a few things you can do to reduce the impact of your divorce on your teen. The primary goal of parents should be to work together to talk to their teen about what will happen and what is expected of them.
For example, if Jane and Tom are divorcing, they may ask their son if he can now drive to the custodial parent’s home after school each day. They may need to talk to him about staying home alone for a few hours each day and what they expect while he’s home alone in Fort Collins.
Younger teens will need more guidance than older kids. Younger teens may do better if they have adult supervision when they come home from school, for example, but they may not like the idea of “needing a babysitter.” Talk to your child about safety and why you choose to bring in a babysitter or relative while they’re home without their parents.
Communication is one of the best ways to reduce the impact of divorce on a teen. Older teenagers may seem unaffected, but all children of divorce go through some emotional changes. Your child may stay away from home more often, spend more time with friends or at school, or focus on avoiding you at home.
Some of this is normal, and it’s giving them time to grieve and cope. However, you and your spouse should sit down and talk to your teen, so that you can answer their questions and help them understand the new situation and what is expected of them moving forward.
Changes can impact teens significantly, just as changes would affect any child. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you believe that your child is not adjusting well to the idea of your divorce.