Helping Teens Cope with Divorce


When discussing life after a Pasadena divorce, parents tend to worry the most about how their young children will adjust. Although it's true that divorce is traumatic for young children, one should not underestimate the stress that the end of a marriage places on teenagers in a household.

If your divorce has created economic hardships, be upfront with your teen. You do not need to provide specific numbers, but your teen needs to be aware of how circumstances have changed. This is especially important if your teen is under the impression that you'll be footing the bill for expensive purchases like a new car after high school graduation or tuition for a fancy private college.

While clear communication is necessary in helping your teen adjust to life after divorce, remember that teenagers are not adults. Be wary of asking your teen to take on responsibilities that are not appropriate for his or her age. Do not provide intimate details about your marital issues or vent to your teen about why you're still angry with your ex. Your teen has enough to worry about already in regards to the normal stresses of adolescence.

Some researchers have noted that there tends to be a sex difference in how well teens cope with a parental divorce. Statistically, boys seem to have a tougher time adjusting than girls. This may be because boys don't have strong networks of friends to rely on for emotional support and are less comfortable talking about their feelings in general. Another possible reason may be that boys often live with their mothers after the divorce and have trouble adjusting to the lack of a strong male role model. If you think this might be the case with your son, look for a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters to provide a mentor for your child.

If your teen is exhibiting serious signs of trouble such as skipping school, experimenting with alcohol or drugs, and engaging in risky sexual behavior, counseling may be in order. A family therapist with experience in the issues relating to Pasadena separation and divorce can help.