It’s not easy going through a divorce, whether you’re party to it or you’re a child who’s caught in the crossfire.
Many parents talk to our Milwaukee divorce lawyers about the issues they’re having with their teenagers. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for everyone, you can employ a few strategies to help your teens deal with divorce.
How to Help Teens Deal With Divorce
Remember that teenagers haven’t acquired the emotional maturity that we, as adults, have. They’re going to have the same emotions—guilt, anger, sadness and more—that we have, but they process things differently; they’re wired differently than we are.
First things first: expect your teen to express emotion. Don’t assume that your teen is going to be okay with your decision; after all, it was your decision, not his or hers.
When your teen does express emotion, be supportive—and if you can, answer his or her questions honestly. You don’t have to share the gory details, but it’s typically best to be as honest as possible without painting your soon-to-be ex in a bad light.
As an adult, you’ve been exposed to divorce before. You know what to expect, but your teen doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with having a frank discussion (not too frank, though) about how the divorce will affect all of your lives.
Let Your Teens Have Some Say in Visiting Their Other Parent
You and your ex will be responsible for setting up a custody agreement, but your teens should have as much input as possible.
Don’t Use Your Kids as Messengers
You have several ways to communicate with your ex; you can call, text or email. Don’t let your kids become collateral damage by using them as messengers.
Don’t Talk Negatively About Your Ex
If you’re like many people going through divorce, you’re not feeling too friendly toward your ex. While that’s fine, don’t pull your children into it; remember, your ex is their other parent, and if you say negative things about him or her, your teens will internalize it.
Keep Up Routines
If you can, try to stick to a routine. Just like smaller kids need to know when to expect things, teens have a need for schedules and routines, too. Regular mealtimes and specific pick-up and drop-off times will help your teen by taking some of the stress of the unknown away.
The bottom line: your teens need you, and although you’re going through a difficult time right now, you need to make sure you stay focused on them. They’re still learning to develop relationships and form the appropriate responses to the emotions they’re experiencing, and the best thing you can do for them is to keep parenting the best way you know how.
Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Divorce Lawyer?
We have helped many families in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Wisconsin through difficult divorces, and we can help yours, too.