The Impact of Divorce on Teens and Their Families

If you’re going through a separation or divorce, here are some ways that your teen might react throughout your divorce process:

Feeling sad about the breakup

Regardless of your children’s age, divorce with kids makes everything in this process harder. Your teenager is probably feeling sad about the split. He or she may feel like life has changed forever. You may notice that your teen seems withdrawn or sad all the time. Or he or she may act angry and resentful toward you since the family dynamics are so different now.

The APA says that research has shown that adolescent children are affected by divorce in several ways:

• They may feel angry and resentful toward one or both parents. In some cases, they may even blame themselves.

• They may be afraid of losing contact with one or both parents.

• They may become confused as to where they stand in their family life and a healthy relationship.

• They may believe that their parents do not love each other anymore.

• Their self-esteem can suffer along with a negative impact on their academic performance.

How to Help Your Teen Cope with the Effects of Parental Divorce

Teenagers are often at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with life’s challenges. They have less experience than adults and may not know what they don’t know. This is especially true when their parents get divorced.

The effects of divorce on kids can range from mild to severe. The most common problems include:

• Anxiety or depression

• Anger

• Feelings of loneliness

When you experience any form of grief, sadness, anger, anxiety, loneliness, etc., you need someone who understands what you are going through. You can talk to your friends and family members but sometimes talking doesn’t always help. Sometimes you just need someone else to listen. In these cases of divorce, it might be good for you or your teen to work with a divorce coach to help prepare some of what you’re going to feel during this whole new family process.

How Will Your Teen React to Divorce

While most teenagers react well to their parents divorce, there are several ways that your teen may respond differently. These reactions vary based on the age of the teenager as well as the nature of the relationship with each parent. A teenage daughter may show more love toward one parent than the other depending on the family situation. From my own experience, teenage girls can be the hardest to contend with throughout the divorce process. I’m not sure time with friends actually helps this situation and it could be that spending time with some other group of people may be better.

Age Differences: Children vs Adolescence

Teens tend to take different approaches to cope depending on their age. Younger teens often feel responsible for their parents’ happiness and try to make sure that everything goes smoothly.

Teenagers blame themselves for the divorce. They believe it was their fault because they did something wrong, or if they were too demanding.

They also blame themselves for not being able to fix things between their parents.

This leads to feelings of guilt and shame which can lead to low self-esteem.

When adolescents blame themselves they lose hope of ever having a positive future.

It is important that teenagers know that this is not their fault. Divorce is not their fault.

How to Help Your Teen From Destructive Behaviors

You might find it helpful to talk about divorce with your teen. You could tell them about your own experiences growing up without a father or mother, and how you coped as a result. This way, you’ll be able to better understand where they’re coming from.

Remember that your teen needs time to adjust to the changes in their life. Give them space to process these changes, and don’t expect them to always act maturely.