Divorce is always hardest on the children, and it can be especially difficult if the kid is a teen because they’re already going through one of the most awkward and confusing times in their lives. While the teenage brain is still in development, the body is almost fully matured, and they’re having to deal with a weird rush of emotions, hormones, and self-awareness on top of all that. Throwing a divorce on the proverbial bonfire doesn’t help, and it can wreck parent-child relationships. Here are some things any divorcee can take to keep that from happening.
1. Spend more one-on-one time.
Too many divorcees cut and run as soon as the ink is dry on the divorce papers. They are in such a hurry to get away from their ex that they allow the parent-child bond to slip. That bond needs more nurturing now than ever before. Schedule time you can spend with your teen where you do something they like to do — going to a hockey game, watching a movie, batting cages. Make the time special to them and it will be special for them.
2. Listen to what they’re going through.
Your child may have a lot of guilt and confusion over the split. There may also be a lot of anger. It’s your job as a parent to help them through what they’re feeling, regardless of whether they still live with you. Open your ears and your heart to anything they’re willing to share.
3. Be willing to answer all questions.
Remember that word confusion. Your children have a hard enough time understanding who they are at this point in their lives. Seeing their parents part ways in the midst of these changes leads to many questions. Is it my fault? Will you ever get back together? You walked out on each other, would you walk out on me, too? The questions may not always be comfortable, but you’ll earn the teen’s respect and ease some of their fears by treating them like the adult they’re becoming on the topic of the divorce.
4. Show your affection in a way they can appreciate.
Teens — particularly teen boys — aren’t that touchy feely, and they can be even more abrasive and standoffish when processing the outcome of their parents’ divorce. Therefore, be ready and willing to show them affection, but allow them to take the lead. Try to balance your own desires to nurture them with their budding individuality and self-awareness.
5. Don’t include them in conflicts with the other parent.
Keep the conflicts between you and your ex, and find ways to work things out amicably, or at least in a way that doesn’t drag your teen into it and make them feel like they have to choose. A child should never have to pick one parent over the other because in doing so, it’s like rejecting a piece of themselves.
What are some things you’ve done to help your relationship with your teen during a divorce? Sound off in the comments section.