The teen years can be a particularly hard time for children to experience the divorce of their parents. “Helping Parents and Teens Adjust to Divorce” from Risa Garcon explains why and offers some practical advice to both parents and teens. Here is an excerpt from the article:
Divorced parents of teens often wonder if their children’s behavior and family relationship challenges are due to simply being a teen or due to the separation or divorce. A simple answer is that it may be both. A more honest answer suggests that it will depend on both the parent and the child. Some parents say that it depends on the day or the hour.
Certainly, adolescence is a time of working toward independence and establishing an identify separate from each parent’s. This change doesn’t occur suddenly; it happens over time. Everyday tasks that were once prescribed by parents now may become a point of contention with the child, including how bedrooms are kept, when homework gets done and how parents monitor their adolescent’s whereabouts. If a parent has built a fairly healthy relationship with a child in the past, the parent and child may continue to have a civil relationship.
What happens with separation and divorce is that it makes home life more complicated. Parents are going through their own losses and have a boatload of stresses being a single parent. Parents may also mourn a loss similar to the loss their children experience — the loss of the family unit as they knew it. Teens are greatly affected by family change. Although some teens express relief that they don’t have to listen to their parents fighting anymore, many of their peers grieve the loss of their family, worry about money, worry about their parents’ well-being, worry about the family pets and feel guilty thinking that they might be part of the reason their parents are separating.