Divorce is tough on everyone involved, and if you’re a parent, you have to worry about more than your own reaction – you have to worry about how your children are handling the process.
Talking to teens about divorce is incredibly difficult, but it’s necessary to help them cope with what’s going on… but where do you even begin?
How to Talk to Teens About Divorce
According to most psychologists, having a strong bond with both parents during divorce is an essential component in teens’ abilities to cope with the big changes they’re experiencing.
“Parental divorce sets in motion a host of changes which young people must accept. There is an interpersonal loss, social dislocation, lifestyle adjustment, and emotional upheaval to be dealt with. Divorce with children upsets and resets the terms of everyone’s family life,” writes Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., an Austin psychologist who’s authored 15 parenting books.
So how do you deal with what your kids are going through while trying to maintain your own sanity?
“My general suggestions—as a psychologist, coach, and attorney who has worked with family law cases—are to use common sense, choose your words thoughtfully, give plenty of love and reassurance throughout the divorce process, and ultimately, let your actions (hugs, presence, attention, quality time, being kind, keeping promises) speak even louder than your words,” says Suzanne Gelb, Ph.D., J.D.
Gelb also suggests presenting a unified front – which means that you and your ex should be together whenever possible to discuss the divorce with your kids. Other ways she suggests connecting with teens include:
- Listening patiently and encouraging your child to share how he or she feels.
- Explaining that divorce is what’s best for the entire family.
- Explaining that some things will never change – such as your parental love for your kids. It’s also helpful to explain that your ex’s love for the kids will never change, either.
Gelb says that you should try telling teens, “Divorce means we won’t be married to each other anymore, but we still love you and we will be your parents forever. That hasn’t changed. That will never change. Even though mom and dad won’t be part of the same family, you and dad/mom will always be family, and you and me will always be family.”
Are You Getting a Divorce in Milwaukee or Waukesha?
We know that divorce is difficult, and that it’s best if you have a committed and caring lawyer in your corner through this tough time.
If you’re getting a divorce in Milwaukee, or anywhere in Wisconsin, we can help you.