When a family breaks, be it through separation or divorce, every member is affected. Each individual goes through the difficult time in their own way. Although everyone may seem composed on the outside, there is a turmoil which goes on the inside of each person.
When it comes to the feelings of teenagers, they deal with the divorce of their parents in an entirely different way. This is a time when teenagers are discovering themselves and wrapping their heads around the concept of marriage and romantic relationships.
Since they have no experience of being married or what it means to be in a relationship, they look at everything in black and white and end up taking sides. As children, they should not take sides when there is a family breakdown. The lack of experience and height of emotions often leads to bitterness being directed at any one of the parents.
Here are a few suggestions which will help parents who are going through a divorce to deal with their teenage children with a little ease. The aim is to ensure that the relationship to each of the parent remains unaffected and the impact of a broken family is minimized.
Allow your Children to Grieve
When something undesirable happens, there are four stages of emotions that each person goes through:
When the parents are about to get the divorce, they have already gone through the four stages and accepted their decision. Now, the children should be given their own time to get through the four stages and come to accept the fact that their family will now be different. It these feelings are validated by the parents, the children will feel that both the parents treated them with injustice. It can be expected that each child will react differently to the news and probably not in a way you expected.
Ensure that Regular Routines Continue
Make sure that the routines which you have set for your children remain unaffected. School, tuitions, extracurricular activities must continue as usual. This gives hope to children that life will continue in the routine despite significant changes.
Ensure Relationship with the Other Parent Remains Unaffected
Parents should do this for the children for sure. Whatever responsibilities the parents shared prior to the divorce, should be continued after as well. For example, if the father took the children to school, he should continue even if he has to pick them each morning from a different home. If the mother took them to the grocery shopping, she must continue after the changes as well. This will encourage the relationship with each parent.
Avoid giving them Details
Your angry teenager will surely demand answers. The answer to “Kiska qasoor tha?” (Whose fault was it?) Should be kept unanswered. Giving the children details about the divorce will only create walls towards one parent. The children will choose their loyalties and create a fabricated, emotional wall towards either one of the parent. Make sure that you create a fine line between being their friend and parent. Show them this line when these questions hit you.
Do Not Degrade the Other Parent
Parents often fall into the trap of sharing the faults and flaws of the other parent to their children. The emotional outbursts often result in children losing respect and love for the one being degraded. No matter how emotional or angry you may be on your ex-spouse, make sure that you never talk negatively about them in front of your children. Your teenagers need to know that even when you both live apart, you both still care and love your children the same way.
Divorce is a difficult time and the children get stuck in the middle with no route for escape. The parents can work together with each other to ensure that their children continue to live happily and love their parents despite the separation.