Explaining divorce to your teenager may surface a lot of strong emotions. You may even find that your child begins to misbehave or push boundaries more than ever before.
Handling challenges in an appropriate manner can help you protect your teen’s emotional health. Your thoughtful approach can facilitate healing and understanding.
Even if you had a strong relationship with your teenager prior to your divorce, this could change after the split. However, do your best to maintain honest and open communication with your child. Regardless of age, your child may feel some concern about how divorce will impact his or her education, social life and living situation. Create time for discussion and listen intently to your teen’s concerns about the changing family dynamic.
If you feel that your teen lacks interest in talking with you, consider creative ways to engage in meaningful conversation. For example, you could plan a simple evening out to get dinner and participate in some form of entertainment. Use this time to connect with your child and express your concern and interest in hearing what he or she has to say. According to Today’s Parent, teenagers need parental connection. So even if yours appears to shut you out, make a consistent effort to communicate.
Your teenager may experience triggers as a result of your divorce and the impending stress. If he or she lacks the knowledge to manage triggers and respond to them effectively, the result could cause ongoing emotional distress. You may consider therapy or counseling to help your teen learn about processing difficult emotions. Learning from the start to navigate complex emotions can help your teen develop valuable lifelong skills including resilience and confidence.