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Teens and Divorce

Updated: Apr 17

Some Important Things for Divorcing Parents to Remember

However much parents wish to protect their children from the impact of marriage break-down, some fall-out is inevitable and needs to be considered. For the adolescent, the good news is that they are more mature and much better able to understand than younger children how a relationship can go wrong. The bad news is that they are often idealistic and very critical of human frailties (especially those of parents); they may also appear self-involved and indifferent at times. In spite of appearances, you can be sure they are being significantly affected by their parents' behaviour, and every attempt should be made to discuss important issues with them. If at all possible, try to engage your ex-partner in cooperation where the children's needs are concerned.


  • Be careful how you express your own anger or hurt, and avoid statements of blame and fault. You are modelling for your adolescent the appropriate approach to serious interpersonal challenges; the feelings you expose may end up back on your doorstep.

  • Your adolescent will probably miss your ex-partner. This is no reflection on your ability to care for your children, or on their love for you. They need to sort out their feelings for the other parent free of your influence. Avoid competing with your ex-partner for their love and approval. 

  • Do not attempt to hide the truth, but details, especially acrimonious ones, are not necessary. Generally, an amicable divorce will significantly decrease the negative impact on children.  

  • Reassure your adolescent that nothing they did caused the divorce, and respect their expression of sadness and anger without blaming.

  • It is natural and normal to feel that you occasionally want a break from your children and their needs. Make sure they understand the difference between your present state of emotional fatigue, and abandonment or lack of love. It can make the adjustments much easier for them if there is another caring adult available to devote time and attention to the family's functioning when you are preoccupied.

  • Your adolescent should not be accorded the ultimate responsibility of decisions about custody, however, they will certainly want to be heard and considered.

  • Protect your kids from any on-going legal battles. Confide in someone else.

  • Your teenager needs the reassurance and security of discipline now more than ever. It is ideal if you and your ex-partner can coordinate rules and limits together.

  • Try hard to involve your ex-partner in mutually cooperative child-rearing arrangements. It will make an enormous difference to your children.

  • Do not turn your adolescent into a substitute for your partner. The temptation to seek solace will probably arise, but putting a teen in such a role is inappropriate and should be avoided.

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