Divorce is a time of high emotions and drastic changes. While this holds a heavy burden on the separating spouses, teenagers in particular are often hit the hardest. Unlike younger children, teenagers are able to understand most of what is happening and are more likely to internalize the issues of divorce as their own fault. While many parents may have a knee-jerk reaction to protect their child from the damage of divorce, open and honest communication is key.
In place of trying to protect teens, it is more advisable to come up with a plan for their adjustment into their new child custody situation.
Keep in touch. Suddenly spending time between two homes can have high emotional effects on a teenager. Having a “keep in touch” plan between the teenager and the parent who will no longer see them on a daily basis can help divert feelings of abandonment or having to choose a side.
Work it out. In order for a teen to feel connected to both of their parents rather than just one, it can help to have both parents at special events, such as a recital or sporting event. It may become awkward for the two recently separated spouses to attend events together, but coming up with a reasonable plan to have both parents actively involved in a teen’s activities can help the child feel supported through the divorce process.
Talk about the future. Do not leave the future uncertain for a teenager. One of the most concerning aspects for a child of any age is wondering what will happen next and if their plans will significantly be changed by divorce. Instead, discuss the details of the future, such as college plans, to assure him or her that their plans will continue with the same love and support.
Open communication. If your teenager comes to you with concerns, be sure to allow time to sit down and discuss their concerns, no matter how trivial they may appear. The issues may delve deeper or a teen may simply need assurance. Be sure to let them know that their concerns are valid and that they need not worry they are placing extra stress on you during this time.
Stay civil. You may have bitter feelings toward your soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, they are your child’s parent. Feeling trapped in the middle is one of the most stressful emotions a teenager can feel when their home life is already up in the air and going through major changes. If you feel you may not be able to speak of your separating spouse in a positive light, listen rather than speak. Allow your child to express how they feel about their parent leaving without fear of judgment or making one parent feel that they are not loved.
By staying open and honest while maintaining respect between the two parents, teenagers will continue to feel the love and support of both parents. If there are times when fights between you and your parting spouse cannot be civil, let your teenager spend time with friends or trusted relatives to help them better cope with the stress.
If you or a loved one is considering a divorce or require a modification to a child custody agreement, contact a Somerset divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Kisha M. Hebbon, LLC. Our solutions consider both the children and the parents in every decision. Contact us online or call us at 732-873-6464 today to start getting your family’s life back on track.
We represent clients throughout New Jersey including Somerset County, Middlesex County, Union County and including but not limited to the towns of Somerset, Franklin, Bridgewater, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Plainfield, Edison, Metuchen, Woodbridge, Piscataway, Old Bridge, Rahway, Linden, Elizabeth, Cranford, Summit, Union, Clark, Elizabeth, Berkeley Heights, and Scotch Plains.