Sunday, February 13, 2011

Teens Surviving Divorce

Communication is key. Talk, don't argue.
Talking Your Teen through Your Divorce
Divorce can be a heart-wrenching process for the whole family, and no matter how tough your teenager appears to be through the whole ordeal, he or she isn’t immune to the pain it brings. Even if your teen agrees it’s a good thing for you and your spouse to divorce, they have to endure the massive change that comes with having only one parent in the home, the possibility of moving, custody disputes and perhaps having to hear hateful things about you from the other parent.

Communicate Early and Often
Divorce can be all-consuming for the parents involved, which is why you must purpose to communicate regularly with your teen on the matters that affect him or her. Divorce isn’t something you want to spring on your teen. When you and your spouse come to the conclusion that you are really and truly filing for divorce, pull your teen aside and explain the situation as early as possible so they have time to prepare themselves emotionally for the changes that are about to occur in your family. If you can stand it, it’s best to do this together, but many parents choose to talk to their teen individually.

While talking about the divorce with your teen is important, it’s certainly not important to go into all the gory details. Your teen will likely have a lot of questions as to why the divorce is happening, but if you can’t explain the situation in a way that is fair to the other parent, be succinct and tell them that when it doesn’t hurt so much you’ll explain things better. Sometimes all you’re able to say is “We just don’t love each other anymore” or “We were fighting too much. It wasn’t healthy.” Whatever you do, don’t use these conversations as opportunities to attack or pass blame on the other parent. Doing so is extremely destructive.

Apologize for How It Will Affect Them
If you believe you’re making a good decision by going through with the divorce, there’s no need to apologize to your teen for the divorce itself. You can, however, apologize for the affect the events leading up to the divorce have had on them, and for how the divorce will affect them in the future. For example, you could say, “For the past few years, you’ve heard nothing but your parents fighting day in and day out. No teenager should have to be raised in that situation. I’m sorry you had to live in a house like that.”

Tell them you love them and It’s Not Their Fault
Divorce or no, you can never tell your teen “I love you” too often. Make it clear to them that they mean the world to you and that they had nothing to do with why you and your spouse are separating. Aside from verbally expressing your love, show it by your actions by purposing to not get so engrossed in the divorce that you miss attending important games and events in your teen’s life.

Let Them Vent
Finally, your teen may need to work through a lot of anger and sadness over the divorce. Listen to them when they express their concerns and allow them to work through it. Your teen may blame you for not doing more to keep the marriage together or shut out the whole situation by avoiding home to hang out with friends. It’s at this point that you need to reach out to your teen the most so they don’t turn to alcohol, drugs and sex for comfort in their pain.

Kitty Holman, regularly writes on the topics of nursing colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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