Going through puberty is one of the most awkward and uncomfortable experiences we navigate as we enter adulthood. Adolescent children are managing surges in hormones, changing social circles, and the growth of their bodies. Add in parents who just announced they are getting a divorce and it is no surprise older children can lash out.
Although the exact methods to navigate this difficult transition will be different for each family, three strategies that often help include the following.
#1: Let your child know what is going on.
It is natural for parents to want to shield their children from difficult conversations. Unfortunately, avoiding a conversation about the impact of the divorce on their lives can erode their trust because they know their lives are about to change.
It is important to share information on how the divorce will impact their lives without sharing too much information. The children do not need to know all the details of the divorce, but they should know information that directly impacts their day-to-day lives like how you plan to move forward with parenting schedules, where they will live, and whether the divorce will impact their schooling or extracurricular activities.
#2: Listen to your child.
Ask your child how they are handling the divorce and take the time to listen. Let them vent and voice frustration, ideally in a respectful manner. If their frustrations seem to escalate or take the form of dangerous behaviours, consider adding a counselor or mental health professional to your team to help your child learn the tools they need to navigate through these big emotions and this difficult transition.
#3: Consider mediation.
Mediation can be a viable option for those who wish to co-parent after divorce. It is a divorce process that allows both parties to negotiate a divorce agreement and child custody plan. One of the benefits of mediation is the presence of multiple strategies that the parents can gear towards the children, potentially easing the transition into post life divorce and the new family structure for everyone involved.
Whether using mediation or traditional litigation, those going through a divorce are wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in these matters can discuss the role of the best interest of the child standard in the child custody determination process and help you to build towards a resolution that is best for your family.