How Divorce May Affect Your Teenager

February 20, 2020

Divorce could be a challenging time for a family. Not only do the parents realize new ways of relating to each other, however, but they’re also learning new means to parent their kids. When parents separate, the impacts of divorce on kids, especially teenagers, can vary. Some teenagers react to divorce in an understanding and natural way, while other teens may struggle with the transition.

Teenagers are resilient, and with proper help, the divorce transition can be experienced as an adjustment as opposed to a crisis. Since the teens in a divorce vary (different ages, different temperaments), the impacts of separation on children vary, as well. Family needs understanding and approach a divorce by understanding what the impacts are on children in every aspect.

Why Do Parents Go Through Divorce?

Parents go through a divorce for many reasons. Mostly, divorce happens when couples feel they can no longer live together due to anger and fighting, or because the love they had when they got married has changed. Divorce can also occur because one parent falls in love with somebody else, and sometimes it is due to a serious issue like abuse, drinking, or gambling. Sometimes nothing bad occurs; parents just choose to live separated.

Did you know it is very common for teenagers to think that their parents’ separation is some way or another their fault? Just remember that parents’ decision to separate is to do with issues between them and not as a result of something you might have done or not done. Some children feel guilty about the situation or wish they had prevented arguments by getting more in the family affairs, improving their conduct, or getting good grades. However, divorce is a result of a couple’s issues with one another, not with their children. The choices grown-ups make about separation are their own.

If your parents are going through a divorce, you may experience numerous feelings. Your feelings may change a great deal, as well. You may get angry, stressed out, sad, or frustrated. You may feel protective of one parent or blame one for the divorce. You may feel relinquished, apprehensive, guilty, or worried. You may also feel relieved, mainly if there has been a lot of fighting or tension at home. These emotions are normal, and discussing them with a family member, friend, or trusted adult can truly help.

The Adolescent Process is Interrupted

Teenage involves teenagers gaining a feeling of independence, a personality autonomous of their parents. This process requires teenagers to separate from their parents. When divorce occurs, adolescents may see that their parents have separated from them. Despite teens trying to separate from them during teenage, they still need social safety that originates from secure and sound relationships with their parents. Adolescents develop by establishing independence at their own pace. It is normally three steps forward, two steps back kind of progress.

During a divorce, parents can become extremely self-absorbed or distracted, prompting them to give less attention to their children. This results in teenagers becoming insecure about the nature of their relationship with their parents and feeling anxious or isolated.

Teens Are Forced to Grow Up Quickly

Many teens feel their time for growing up is interrupted by the divorce. This can be for numerous

reasons, including:

  • Parents using teenagers as a confidant, exposing the teen to the adult world sooner.
  • Teenagers being required to take up extra adult obligations around the home because of the loss of a parent i.e., taking care of siblings.
  • Parents unable to offer past level nurture or surprise owing to fatigue or depression, leaving the teenager to go through life alone.

How Does Divorce Tend to Affect Boys?

A study suggests that parental divorce at a young age encourages some bad behaviors in boys, for example, fighting or aggression. Additionally, teenage boys whose parents have a serious risk of getting involved in reprobate behavior. These impacts are significantly bigger when marriages were marked with a high level of fights before separation.

Divorce can make a huge change in the mental development of boys. Research shows that when parents go through a divorce, the self-esteem and mental well-being of the boys can decline, again, particularly when parents’ marriages were marked with conflict. Likewise, teenage boys can be more dependent, aggressive, whiny, and insubordinate for the first year after the separation. For most teenagers, this problem tends to affect them for the rest of their adolescent age.

Challenges Facing the Daughters of Divorced Parents

Research shows that the impacts of separation on teenagers can be huge. A recent study of about one million children showed that children growing up in single-parent homes were twice as liable to experience a severe mental issue, attempt or commit suicide, or build up an alcoholic addiction. Moreover, a research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that teens living with one biological parent were somewhere in the range of three and eight times as likely as kids living with two biological parents to have experienced at least one of the followings:

  • Caregiver violence
  • Neighborhood violence
  • Incarceration of a caregiver
  • Having a caregiver with an alcohol or drug problem
  • Living with a caregiver with a mental illness

How Divorce Affects Teenagers Generally

Numerous parents want their kids to have as typical of a childhood as possible after separation. Parents can enable their kids to cope by understanding how separation may affect the development of their children from early childhood to teenage.

  1. Loss of Interest in Social Activity. A study has suggested that divorce can affect children socially, also. Teenagers whose family is experiencing separation may have a difficult time relating to others and will, in general, have fewer social contacts. Sometimes teens feel insecure and wonder if their family is the only family that has experienced a divorce.
  2. Difficulty Adapting to Change. Through separation, kids can be affected by figuring out how to adapt to change more frequently. New family peculiarities, new house or living situations, friends, schools, and more, may all have an impact.
  3. Emotionally Sensitive. Separation can carry a few kinds of feelings to the forefront for a family, and the kids involved are no different. Anger, feelings of loss, confusion, anxiety, and many others, all may originate from this change. Divorce can leave kids feeling overwhelmed and emotionally sensitive. Teenagers need an outlet for their emotions – somebody to talk to, somebody who will listen, and so on – kids may feel impacts of divorce through how they process their feelings.
  4. Anger/Irritability. At times, where youngsters feel overpowered and don’t have a clue how to react to the effects they feel during divorce, they may become irritable or angry. Their anger may be aimed at a wide scope of perceived causes. Teenagers handling divorce may show anger toward their friends, parents, themselves, and others. While for some children, this indignation dissipates after several weeks, if it lingers on, it is crucial to know this might be a lingering impact of the divorce on kids.
  5. Introduction of Destructive Behavior. While kids experience a separation between their parents, unresolved fights may prompt unexpected future risks. Studies have shown that teenagers who have experienced divorce between their parents in the past 20 years were more likely to take part in crimes, revolting through ruinous conduct that harms a child’s health, with more teens reporting that they have taken up smoking habits, or prescription drug use.

What Parents and Teens Can Do to Make It Easier

  • Keep harmony. Dealing with the divorce between two parents is easier when the parents get along. Teenagers find it particularly hard when their parents argue or act with harshness toward one another. You can’t do much to influence how your parents get along during a divorce; however, you can ask them to do their best to call a truce to any quibbling or horrible things they may be saying about one another. Regardless of what issues, a couple might face, as parents, they have to deal with visiting arrangement peacefully to limit the stress their children may feel. Letting your parents understand that even though you know that everybody is super-stressed, you would prefer not to get caught in the middle.
  • Be fair. Most teenagers say it is important that parents don’t try to get them to “favor one side.” You need to be free to hang out with and talk to both of your parents without the other parent acting envious, jealous, hurt, or frantic. It’s uncalled for anybody to feel that talking to one parent is being disloyal to the other parent or that the weight of one parent’s happiness is on your shoulders. When parents find it difficult to let go of anger or bitterness, or if they are depressed about the transitions brought by divorce, they can seek help from a therapist or counselor. This can help parents get past the pain divorce might have created, to find personal happiness, and to take away any burdens off their kids’ shoulders.
  • Stay in touch. Going back and forth between two homes can be intense, particularly if parents live apart. It can be a decent idea to stay in touch with a parent you see less frequently because of distance. Even an instant email saying, “I’m thinking about you,” helps ease the feelings of missing each other. Putting forth an effort to keep in touch when you are apart can keep the two of us updated on everyday ideas and activities.
  • Work it out. You may want your parents to come to special events with you like meets, games, plays, or presentations. However, sometimes a parent may find it awkward to come if the other parent is present. It helps if parents can figure out a way to make this work out, particularly because you may need to feel the presence and support of both parents even more during the divorce. You may be able to come with an idea for a solution or compromise about this problem and tell both parents about it.
  • Talk about the future. Many teenagers whose parents have separated worry that their own plans toward the future could be affected. Some are worried that the cost of divorce (like legal charges and costs of two households) may mean there will be less money for school or other things.

Do Sibling Relationships Help Children Cope with Divorce?

Studies show that all things considered, children who have siblings heal quicker and cope better after the divorce than if they were an only child. Having a sibling offers them somebody, they can talk to about the situation with their parents that is in the same condition as they are.

Are Most Teens Pretty Resilient to The Effects of Divorce? Does Good Parenting Help?

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Numerous parents feel that if they get a divorce, the negative results related to divorce will leave their kids permanently wounded. While these kids are at greater risks for various issues, the truth of the matter is that most kids are really resilient and cope well with divorce. Indeed, the separation will be a life-changing moment, and truly, most will wish that the separation never occurred. In any case, most kids won’t be forever scarred by a separation. Those teens who are raised to be autonomous, mature, and are involved in extracurricular exercises have fewer lasting problems after divorce. The most significant factor in how well your kids conform to divorce is you – the nature of your relationship with your kids and the nature of your parenting. While great parenting is rarely simple, it is something that you can concentrate on to help your kids through the difficulties of divorce.

What parents see as a fast way out often results in enthusiastic damage that the children will carry for a long time. Separation is no little thing for kids. It’s the violent tearing apart of their parents, lost strength, and often a complete shock. While we often consider kids resilient, experiencing such trauma is a great deal to ask of our children. Considering the way that most marriages heading for divorce can be salvaged and transformed into incredible marriages, parents should take a long pause before picking a divorce. While it might appear to be an answer for you, it is anything but an easy out for you or your children.

Is your child struggling with long-term and drastically negative mental or behavioral issues as a result of your divorce? Contact Hillcrest to see how residential treatment might be able to help your child learn healthy coping mechanisms and push forward to healing!