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Helping your teens through your divorce

As a divorcing parent, you may be more worried about how your younger children are dealing with the break-up than your teenagers. After all, teens are old enough to understand at least some of the factors that lead adults to end their relationships. Further, they have the communication skills to express their concerns and ask questions that your little ones don't.

However, parental divorce can be extremely stressful on teens -- particularly if they're already dealing with problems with friends, peers, teachers and their own boyfriends or girlfriends. Often, teens' feelings about their parents' divorce manifest in anger. Sometimes their school work suffers. They may lose interest in sports and other extracurricular activities.

It's essential to watch for these and other changes in your teens and to address them before they seriously impact their lives. It may not seem like it's necessary to say this to teens, but kids of all ages need to be reassured that their parents' divorce isn't their fault. Parents regularly argue about their teens. It's only reasonable for some kids to draw the conclusion that if they'd just been "better," their parents would still be together. That's almost never the case.

Even though most divorcing parents understand that they should never use their kids as "go-betweens" with their spouses, too many still place that responsibility on teens because they think they can handle it. They may also use their teens as a shoulder to cry on or someone to vent to. No matter how seemingly wise and mature your teenagers may be, that's never a position in which they should be placed.

Encourage your teens to talk about their feelings regarding the break-up. If they don't feel comfortable talking to you, encourage them to talk to their friends or perhaps other adults in their lives whom they're close to. Keep in mind that they may need to talk to a professional, like a school counselor or a psychologist.

If you need advice on how to help your teen get through this difficult period, your Rhode Island family law attorney can likely recommend some resources in your area, including support groups and family therapists.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Dealing with Your Parents' Divorce as a Teenager," accessed June 07, 2018

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Rioles Law Offices
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Providence, RI 02909

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