You want to help your teenager, but you don’t know how. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed yourself by a separation or divorce. You know you’ve made the right decision, but you are worried about your children. Maybe your teen is expressing anger, seems depressed or has more anxiety. As a depression and anxiety therapist for teens and adults I have track record of helping parents and teens communicate better and cope with divorce. Here are a few tips for parenting a teenager during and after a parental separation or divorce:
1. Be Honest with your teenager…
In an age appropriate way. Teens don’t need to know every little detail of why you are getting a ivorce. Cheating spouses, alcoholism or financial difficulties that led to conflict in the marriage may not be topics you want to discuss with your teen and it is ok to draw some boundaries in the conversation. However, it’s also important to not make up reasons for your separation or avoid questions altogether. Teenagers are at an age where they will pick up on dishonesty, so be honest while still being mindful of what you feel is appropriate to share.
2. Validate Your Child’s Emotions
Listening to and understanding that strong emotions are normal for teens, but especially teens whose entire family structure is changing. Your child may yell, withdraw, sulk or cry. Their world is changing and they feel confused. Parents are often stressed and full of emotions themselves during a separation and divorce. Know that even if your child is expressing only anger, they still need their parent. By acknowledging and validating their emotions you will help your child begin to process their feelings and communicate that you still see them as an individual. Furthermore, you can try using these 6 ways to reconnect with your teen using validation.
3. Provide Rules and Structure
The teenage years are full of emotions and exploration to begin with. When a teen’s parents divorce, they may feel even less in control of their lives. While the temptation to give them unlimited freedom so they are less mad or want to spend time at your house makes sense, the truth is that your teen needs and internally even craves the structure that rules and expectations provide. Be fair and consistent with your rules. Whenever possible, work together with your former spouse to provide consistency in expectations. While differences between the houses are to be expected, co-parenting will be vitally important at least until your child is through high school.
4. Encourage Their Relationship with Both Parents
When the emotions of a marital separation or divorce are raw, you may feel tempted to speak ill of your ex spouse. Even if you don’t say something directly, your teen may pick up on your facial expression or body language when the other parent’s name comes up. Express to your teen that even though you and their other parent have differences, you both love them and you want your child to have a good relationship with both parents. Be flexible with your parenting schedule for teenagers and don’t take it personally if your teenager asks to spend more time with their other parent for awhile. Teenagers need both parents but may feel closer to one or the other at various points in time.
5. Allow Your Teenager Emotional Space
This lets them process the divorce while making it clear that you love them. Your teen may go through periods of being closer to one parents and angry at the other. Perhaps they withdraw from the entire family and spend more time with friends. Teenagers whose parents divorce are likely to experience a variety of emotions. As a divorced parent of a teen, the most important thing you can do is communicate your unconditional love. Let your child know that you are there when they want to talk and that your love for them has never and will never change.
6. Let Your Teen Know That You Too Have Feelings
It is important that teens learn that they can experience strong emotions and be ok. You have the opportunity to model this for them by allowing your teen to know you too feel strong emotions about your family situation and letting them see how you cope with those feelings. If your child sees you crying or stressed out, asks what’s wrong and your response is, “Oh nothing,” then you have missed a learning opportunity.
7. Encourage Healthy Outlets for Emotions
This may mean joining a basketball team, a club, learning a new instrument or drawing. Anything that will allow them to clear their minds and feel a sense of control and accomplishment in one area of their lives.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Forget to Care For Yourself
As a parent, your top concern is for your children. But don’t forget that you too deserve support during a divorce. This blog post by a colleague of mine describes why parents should consider therapy while going through a divorce as well. If you’re in the Columbia, MO area, we have several therapists who can help you through the process of grieving your marriage, self exploration and then moving forward in a meaningful way.
A Depression and Anxiety Therapist for Teens can Help Them Cope with Divorce
If you or your child are feeling “stuck,” depressed or have anxiety that’s interfering with your day to day living, please reach out today. Depression and anxiety therapy is available in Mid Missouri. If you’re having difficulty being parenting because you feel overwhelmed, we can help. Or if your teenager doesn’t feel like they can even talk about their emotions, we’ll provide them a safe environment to do so. Counseling can help both you and your teen find meaning and cope with the stress of divorce. We take time to match each individual with the right therapist based on personality, your wants and the therapist’s expertise. If seeing both a teen and parent are seen at Aspire Counseling, we typically assign different therapists. Healing, hope and happiness are all possible. You may contact us using the form on this page or by calling 573-328-2288.
Other pages you may find helpful:
It’s Easy to Start Anxiety Therapy for Teens in Columbia MO
- Get in touch with at Aspire Counseling to setup your first appointment.
- Get connected with a skilled anxiety therapist for teenagers.
- Let us help you teen heal and thrive in counseling for teen with anxiety in Columbia, MO.
Other Services Offered at Aspire Counseling
As a Mid Mo based counseling center for individual therapy, we offer more than treatment for coping from a skilled depression and anxiety therapist for teens. We also offer a PTSD counseling e-course, as well as counseling for college students, PTSD & trauma treatment, counseling for depression, grief and loss counseling, adults therapy, DBT counseling, transgender affirming & LGBTQ therapy, mindfulness counseling, EMDR therapy services, sexual assault & rape survivor counseling and anxiety treatment in Columbia, MO. We also offer tips for improving your overall mental health on our blog. Please free to Contact us for questions or to schedule an appointment or schedule and appointment here today!