As parents, you might assume that your youngest children will suffer most during divorce because they cannot understand it. You might think your older kids know that relationships do not always work out, especially if they have started dating themselves.
Research shows that adolescents can struggle more than you realize. Yet, being teenagers, they are unlikely to open a conversation about how they are feeling.
Watch out for behavioral changes in adolescents when you divorce
Here are some signs your teenage child may be struggling to cope with the end of your marriage:
- Problems at school: This could be a drop in grades or getting into fights. Let the school know you are divorcing so teachers can keep an eye on your child.
- Going off the rails: Rebels always have a cause. If your kid becomes difficult to handle, it is likely due to your divorce. You need to work with the other parent to decide how to handle the situation. If each household has conflicting rules, it will make things harder.
- Getting angry at you: If your child thinks the divorce was your fault, they might want to make that clear. If only you had acted differently, their life would still be the way it was before, according to their logic. Be prepared to sit down and talk to them about why you chose to divorce. If they are angry at the other parent, encourage them to be considerate.
- Mental health issues: Some children retreat into themselves or suffer from depression. Others may have suicidal feelings or engage in risky behavior such as drug-taking or promiscuous sex. They are all signs that all is not well, and you may need to get external help.
Divorce will affect all your children; there is no way around that. However, by minimizing conflict in your divorce, you can reduce the chances it harms your children.