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divorce and teensFamilies are portrayed as impenetrable, unbreakable units, but as any child of divorce knows, they can be fractured. However, every child of divorce also knows families always find a way to pick up the pieces and come back stronger than ever. In Part 1, we discussed what was going on in your teenager’s head during a divorce, which is just as important to understand as it is to know how to approach your teen during a divorce.

A teen of divorce has more on their mind than the stereotypical sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll most TV shows espouse, so don’t become warden of your teenager in hopes of dissuading deviant behaviors. What your teen needs now is confirmation that the family bonds are no different, it’s just the physical structure that’s changed. Change can be good, so here are a few tips on making the change less traumatic.

For Starters:

You must address the fact that divorce cannot be swept under the rug or ignored, so never think about validating the wishful thought that your child will be completely alright immediately after the divorce. By trivializing the divorce, what you are doing is teaching your child to suppress feelings, which stunts their emotional maturation. However, there is a larger problem you are making by trying to make light of the divorce. By trivializing the divorce, you are conveying to your child that you are not strong enough or dependable enough to confide their emotions in; and so a trust-issue-riddled teen is born.

How the Family Cannot Change

Like we said a paragraph ago, change can be good, but part of change being good is knowing the right things to change and the right things to keep consistent. The divorce process is making enough changes in your teenager’s life, so lets keep the major life changes to a minimum right now.

One of the changes you should not make in your family is the way you and your spouse interact and treat your teenager. Remember, your teen is trying to stay one step ahead of the confusing game we call life right now; and what your teen is especially trying to decipher is whether their parents still love and care for them (remember your teen’s roadblock and fear of “opting out of the family“?). The best way to demonstrate that your feelings toward your teen have not changed, in spite of the family structure changes, is to stay consistent.

Staying consistent means maintaining the household rules, including discipline procedures. After a divorce, parents may feel inadequate to discipline or guilty for inflicting a divorce on the child; if these thoughts or feelings worm their way into your brain, crush them. You are doing no favors for your teen by turning a blind eye to bad behavior or making excuses for them. You are still the parent, and they are still the child (Right? Right), and it is your job to teach right from wrong and correct unacceptable behavior.

Along these lines (you are the parent, they are the child), resist the urge to make your teen your best friend and confidant. We are not saying to not have a close relationship with your teen, just remember who they are. Your teen may be wise beyond their years, but they are not adults; so do not treat them like one of your poker buddies, or like your very own Sam, Carrie, Miranda, or Charlotte. Let your child be a child right now, and continue to be their parent.

Divorce is difficult, and it complicates more parts of your life than you initially realize. However, there are somethings divorce should not and does not change; your love for your child is a prime example of a component of your life divorce should not and does not change.

Have these tips been helpful, eye-opening, or are they totally off-base? You tell me.

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