Teenagers are complicated by nature. They are struggling through puberty and trying to find a balance between being a child and becoming an adult. Their emotions are magnified and their lives are filled with intense reactions and drama. It may feel quite daunting to talk to your teenager about your divorce. Many parents feel worried that their teenage children will not be able to deal with the news well and are unsure how to help them cope with the impending changes.
In many ways teenagers need the same reassurance that younger children do. They need to know that they are still loved, that the divorce is not their fault, and that their world is not falling apart. They need security and stability as much as younger children would. The difference is that teenagers think of themselves as adults and don’t like to be treated like children. Yet, at the same time, teenagers still have immature emotional responses and often feel things quite intensely.
This means that the way in which you talk to your teenager needs to accommodate their need to be treated like adults and also bear in mind that they may be quite emotionally vulnerable as well. This can be a difficult juggle. It is important to be open and honest with your teenager throughout the process. Treat them respectfully, yet sensitively and you may find that they respond better.
Things you can do to help them cope
- While you view your teenager as ‘just a child’, your teenager does not want to be treated this way. It is important to talk about your divorce to your teenager in an open and honest way. Of course you need not confide in them about everything going on, but it is helpful to try and make sure your teenager is informed about decisions being made that will impact on them.
- Make sure you reassure your teenager that they are not to blame for what is happening between her parents. It is important that you assuage any feelings of guilt your teenager may be feeling. Again, it is important to seek professional help if you are struggling to help your teenager with her feelings.