How divorce affects teenagers

Many people see first hand the effects of divorce on teens. Knowing what to do during and after the divorce is what is hard for many parents. Get helpful advice about the effects of divorce on kids and how you can minimize their heartache.
The Effects of Divorce on Teenagers
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How divorce affects teenagers

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With more and more families getting divorced, it is important to understand the implications it has on teenagers no matter the age that it happened. If it happened at an early age, as kids develop and go through these different developmental stages, they have to revisit the big moments in their life. So you will find the teenager who is 14 years old and their parents got divorced when they were four, all of a sudden at 13 or 14 asking more questions about it because they have a different cognitive level, they have a different emotional level, and they want to understand it in some ways. It is important to understand generally in divorce there are some good things that can come of it and there are some bad things that can come of it. And lots of it, like everything else, is how you handle it. Even when they are not divorced, one of the things that comes up is badmouthing the spouse to the teenager. And this never works whether you are divorced or still together because teenagers, they are loyal to both parents. And they are going to keep that loyalty no matter what. A divorced parent may say to their teenager. Mom is picking up the teenager and the dad was supposed to be there, but he is late by 20 minutes. And the mom might say that is your father. He is always late. And you will find the teenager with split loyalty is going to stick up for dad. No, he is not always late. What do you mean? He has been late for the last 10 years. No, he is not always late. Mom, you are always so tough on him. And then, when he sees dad. Dad, why are you late all the time? So the teenager is caught in both worlds having to judge parents where they have enough going on in their life and they need us to be adults, which is there is a reason we got divorced. We each have habits we would like to change. Putting and spotlighting this in front of the teenager is no good because then they feel like they have to judge but they always have to end in a tie because they love both parents. And when we try to get them to side even when it is unintentional, it puts them in a position where I am siding too much with mom so maybe they side with you. But then in an hour, they are going to have to start a fight with you. Even when families are intact, it is a really bad practice to badmouth the spouse when they are not there. It does not help the teenager at all. That is our issue. Those are the things that we need to take care of directly with one another. Our teenagers have enough going on. Do not burden them with this.

Many people see first hand the effects of divorce on teens. Knowing what to do during and after the divorce is what is hard for many parents. Get helpful advice about the effects of divorce on kids and how you can minimize their heartache.

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Michael Riera, PhD

Head Of School, Brentwood School

Michael Riera, PhD, Educator, Author, Media Personality, and Speaker. Michael Riera is the Head of School at the Brentwood School, best-selling author, award-winning columnist, educator, television commentator, and national speaker on issues of children, adolescents, families, and parenting. Mike is the author of Right From Wrong: instilling a Sense of integrity in Our Children, Field Guide to the American Teenager, Uncommon Sense For Parents With Teenagers, and Surviving High School. His most recent book, Staying Connected To Your Teenager, was launched with three appearances on Oprah! For eight years he was the Family Consultant for CBS The Saturday Morning Early Show and also hosted an award winning television show on the Oxygen Network, Life in Progress, as well as his own daily radio show, Family Talk with Dr. Mike. Mike has worked in schools for over 20 years as a head of school, counselor, dean of students, teacher and consultant. 

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