How to talk to your teenager about your divorce

Breaking the news to teenagers about a divorce may be difficult, but parents can help children navigate the situation with a few simple steps.

People in Georgia who have children of any age may have questions on how to talk about divorce with their little ones. Very young children may not be able to fully grasp the situation. Teenagers, on the other hand, have the ability to understand the changes that are happening, though they may not be able to process their emotions as well as we would like or expect.

According to a report from Scientific American, divorce causes significant issues with only a small percentage of children. There are several steps parents may take in order to ease the transition and help older children adjust. Experts suggest doing the following:

How you break the news matters

A study from Utah State University found that children of divorce remember hearing the news of their parents' split long after it occurs. Therefore, parents should take this moment seriously to reduce the shock and trauma a child could experience. Breaking the news as a couple is best, as well as reinforcing the fact that both parents still love the child. Further, telling all of the children at once is preferred so older children do not feel they have to keep a secret.

Be honest, but concise

Teenagers are old enough to see through the basic explanations parents may give to younger children. However, divulging too much information about the split to an older child could be damaging. Many of the details surrounding a divorce are best kept private, especially if infidelity or another factor that could put the blame on just one parent is involved.

Answering a teenager's questions honestly gives a sense of closure without creating additional problems. Making statements such as, "Sometimes, adults grow apart," may suffice.

Expect a range of emotions

Each child in the family could react differently to the news of the divorce and the ensuing changes. The uncertainty of where a child will live and how his or her life will change can cause any of the following:

  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Self-centered behaviors

Instead of shaming teenagers for any of the emotions they experience, parents should try to talk to them. In some cases, it may be wise to seek professional help, such as from a licensed family therapist.

Try to foster good relationships

Lastly, whenever possible, couples should commit to helping the children have positive relationships with each parent. Refraining from speaking poorly about each other is vital, as teenagers should not have to bear the burden of being a confidant or feeling unwarranted animosity toward just one parent.

A divorce is already complicated enough with all the issues a couple has to navigate. Keeping as much peace as possible at home during this time is essential. People who have concerns about this topic should speak with a family law attorney in Georgia.

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