For most people, divorce brings up SO MANY feelings. And most of them are unpleasant.
The separation and divorce process prompts a grieving process for you, your co-parent and for your teenager. As with other losses, each person will have their own unique response and reaction.
Your teen’s grieving process may not seem to fit well with yours (think one person wanting to hide, isolate, withdraw or be quiet and the other lashing out, feeling angry and needing to vent).
This can be overwhelming for many parents. Dealing with your own emotions might take a lot of energy right now. How the heck are you supposed to help your kids, too?!
Honesty is really the best policy here, generally speaking. Brutal, soul-baring honesty is probably not necessary or helpful. BUT it is more than alright for your teen to know that you’re not okay right now!
Here are a few suggestions of what you can say to your teen when you’re both hurting because of the divorce:
Reassure children that you will take care of your feelings and their feelings, that you will be okay with a little more time. Let them know that you’re there to parent, support and love them through this difficult time no matter what – and things will get better.
Please do not share your not-so-nice feelings and opinions about the other parent with your child.
Complaining conversations should be shared with a trusted friend, family member or professional, not your teen. By doing this, you are protecting your child from the nastiest part of divorce – the bad feelings between their parents. It also leaves time for you to really connect with your child when you are with them. It is hard to do this if all of your conversations about the divorce are focused on your former spouse.
I'd love to hear about your conversations with your teens when you were hurting the most. Did they go well? Were they really hard? Please leave a comment!
Looking for support as you parent your teen before, during and after your divorce? Join the Divorce Proofing Facebook group today!
Bethany Raab is a Denver-based social worker who loves helping teens and their families be happy and healthy!