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What Divorce Means for Your Teen It may feel like 50% of the time your teenager is trying to give you a heart attack, 30% of the time they are trying to break your heart, and 20% of the time they are trying to fill your heart. Children are these wonderful entities that are part you, part someone else, and entirely themselves. The last thing you want to do is hinder your child and their wonderful individuality in anyway, but to be truthful, actions speak louder than words. Since about 50% of marriages end in divorce, and since the culture of the broken-home-troubled-teen is pervasive, let’s discuss how to avoid tragedy in the face of divorce.

Filing for divorce may be a heartbreaking, yet fantastic new chance at life for you and your spouse, but for your teen, divorce is a roadblock. The roadblock may be an insurmountable obstacle, or it may just be a speed bump on the highway to bigger and better things. As the parent, it is your job to make the roadblock manageable and to see your teenager makes it to the other side.

The Players

Divorce is said to create troubled teens and problem youths. But the teens and youths are only troubled and problematic because their issues have not been properly addressed. The effects of divorce are different for teenagers than for the parents, but that doesn’t mean their troubles and problems don’t overlap.

Children of divorce often feel divided, unsure, and responsible for the divorce. Whether or not the divorce was a long time coming, the reality of divorce makes the future uncertain, makes the family unstable, and creates a division. Your teen may feel stressed about the uncertainty of the future, about how the family will function from now on, and about how to act with each parent. Most teens have a seedling of fear that they are the cause of the destruction of the marriage. Each parent probably feels anxious and mournful about every single topic the teen stresses over, but the difference lies in the family structure of the situation.

The Roadblock

The teen’s roadblock is about having the rug pulled from under them by the two people who are supposed to guide and support them. While a spouse is expected to support and (to an extent) guide the other, the relationship is different because it’s based on attraction and choice. Parenthood and family is not supposed to be a choice, so when it feels like it’s possible to opt out of a family, the teen is worried they will be opted out of too. Is this a little dramatic? Yes, but try reasoning with emotions and see how far you get.

During the divorce process, you’re going through such a rollercoaster of emotions, peppered with random legal jargon, you may feel unable to even dress yourself in the morning. But as a divorcing parent, you have to find a way to exit the coaster and be able to get your teenager safely home, in spite of any roadblocks.

Divorce usually alters the family dynamic and roles, but in order to help your child (they may be a teen, but they will always be your baby) overcome their own issues and emotions, there are a few ways the family cannot alter. Visit us again later to find out how to help your teen over their divorce roadblock in our Part 2.

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