Divorce isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for teenagers when their parents go their separate ways. Perhaps this is because teenagers are emotional enough as it is, and to have the base of their family structure dissolve takes away some of the emotional foundations they depend on for their feeling of stability.
Perhaps the reason is different for every teen. The bottom line is that teens will be dealing with and processing a lot in the wake of their parents’ separation. It’s good for parents to take note of this fact, but is it good for parents to stay together for the kids?
The dangers of staying together for the kids
Parents who want to spare their children the difficulties of divorce may not be taking into account dangers of raising their children in a home environment that is not loving. Presenting the sterile model of two loveless parents to a teenager may have a negative effect on the lives of children. For example, they could learn bad habits like keeping secrets to protect one parent from the infidelity of another parent.
Whichever route parents choose — staying together for the kids or getting a divorce — they should not expect it to be easy. If the “staying together” option results in the children suffering psychological challenges and relationship difficulties in adult life, the divorcing option could have the more immediate result of making children angry and critical of their parents. Parents who wait, however, run the risk of having their older teens looking back at their childhood and thinking that they must have been living a lie.
Parents need to be the adults in the situation
Perhaps the best piece of advice for parents is to remember that they’re the adults in the situation. According to one expert, “You will have to swallow your pride and take the more grown-up stance – they are still going to be furious little kids under it all.” Parents need to take the responsibility to continue trying to make contact with their children even in cases that they don’t receive a gracious response.
Have you decided to get a divorce with kids?
The parents who study up on teenage psychology as it relates to families and divorce will have the best chance of navigating a divorce and not taking the reaction of their children personally. Another way to support your teenager in this regard is to seek the peaceful dissolution of your marriage through out of court settlement and mediation. The more contentious your divorce is, the more difficult it will be for every member of your family.