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Teenagers can already be emotionally volatile and confused before adding their parents’ divorce to the mix. They are dealing with physical changes while also trying to figure out where they fit in social structures. Even a stable environment may not prevent a teenager from being moody and withdrawn. A divorce is far from a stable environment and may exacerbate a teenager’s emotional issues. Though difficult, it is important for divorcing parents to support their teenage children and watch for signs of deeper emotional problems.
Compared to teenagers, it is easier to understand and predict the reaction of younger children to a divorce. Younger children are more likely to be visibly upset by the news and asking questions. Teenagers will have diverse reactions, depending on their maturity and personalities:
Parents should not assume that their teenagers are coping well with the divorce just because they have not mentioned their distress. When teens suppress their negative emotions, it can instead manifest as self-destructive behavior.
Watching for Signals
Teenagers are less likely than younger children to tell their parents that they are upset or depressed by the divorce. However, sudden behavior changes may be a sign that they are struggling with the divorce, including:
All of these behavior changes can develop for reasons other than divorce. The timing of the changes is the biggest indicator that the divorce may be part of the cause.
How to Help
Divorcing parents must take the initiative in supporting their teenage children because the teenagers may not ask them for help. Parents can best help by spending time with them and being attentive to their needs. However, there are times when the parents must know to back off and let others help. Teenagers may be more comfortable talking to a third party about their feelings than to their parents, who are at the root of their feelings.
Your divorce takes away the stability of your teenager’s family life and leaves him or her feeling uncertain. It is important that you be able to see your teenager regularly after the divorce to help him or her adjust. A Kane County divorce attorney at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio can help you obtain a fair share of parenting time with your children. To schedule a free consultation, call 331-588-6611.