Helping your Child through a Divorce

There are very few events that will disrupt your child’s upbringing more than a divorce. A divorce puts a huge crack in the only foundation that your child has known. It is very important that you figure out the best and most honest way to tell your child. Also, it is essential that you educate yourself on how a divorce can negatively affect your child.

Any parent who has been forced to tell their child about an impending divorce knows how difficult that conversation is. It is especially difficult to be candid and give honest answers to their questions, as you want to protect them from having to hear any crushing details. It would be in the best interest of you and your spouse to devise a plan of how you are going to break the news to your children. Here are some extra tips for helping your child through a divorce:

  • Tell your teen about why people get divorced. Explain that sometimes people can’t live together anymore even if they want the marriage to work.
  • As much as is appropriately possible (depending on your children’s ages), tell them about the reasons for the divorce.
  • Set their expectations about when the separation will take place.
  • Tell your children where the parent who will leave will temporarily live.
  • Set their expectations about whether they’ll be moving to a new house, a new school, etc. The adjustment will go a lot easier if there are less changes made on your teen’s routine as possible. Informing them ahead of time of the kind of changes they can expect can help them prepare for the changes emotionally and mentally.
  • Assure them that you love them, no matter kind of issues you and your soon-to-be ex spouse are having.
  • Assure your children that the divorce is not their fault.
  • Inform your teen that a judge may talk to him/her in order to help decide which parent he/she will stay with.
  • Explain why sometimes, getting a divorce isn’t always a bad idea. Assure your teen that you didn’t file for a divorce over small things. Explain that divorce is something married people usually turn to as a last resort when other attempts at saving the marriage didn’t work.Answer any questions your teen may have and continually re-assure them that you will always be there for them.

Negative effects teens can experience from divorce

As difficult as divorce can be on parents, it can be even more strenuous on their children. Teens are already experiencing a natural roller coaster of emotions. Adding a divorce to their existing problems can create a series of negative effects.

One of the most common effects that teens experience from divorce is a strong feeling of anger. A divorce could cause them to act out and in dangerous ways, or cause them to respond to family members, friends or teachers in an irate manner. Similarly, their anger could cause them to feel withdrawn, especially at school. This could lead to a steep decline in grades and put their academic future at risk.

Overcompensation is another negative effect that divorce can have on teens. Teens may incorrectly feel partially responsible for their parents breaking up. This could cause them to try harder at school or do extra yard work around the house, in hopes that parents will see their good behavior and get back together. When they realize that their efforts weren’t fruitful, they become even more demoralized. These emotions could cause them to feel depressed.

Experimenting with alcohol, drugs and tobacco products is another adverse effect from divorce. In order to reduce the pain they feel from their parents getting divorced, teens use harmful substances to help relive their anxiety. This can affect their overall wellness and lead to dependency issues.

If you feel that your teen is still having grave issues with your divorce, then you may want to seek professional help. A trained professional or therapist can help talk your child through this difficult ordeal.