The way a divorce impacts children depends partially on their maturity level. Teenagers often have powerful emotions about the situation, which can be difficult for parents to handle. Because they are aware of various things that are happening, teens might start to form their own opinions about how relationships work based on what they see going on.
As a parent, you have to work with them to ensure that they have an idea of what a healthy relationship entails. This won’t be easy since you are going through a divorce, but there are some options for helping them to learn from the situation.
Be honest with them
Teens are perceptive and observant. They are going to notice many things that went wrong with the marriage. You don’t have to give them all the details of why the relationship didn’t work, but you should help them to see that ups and downs are normal. It might help if you explain why divorce was the final option. Talk about what steps you went through before making this decision.
Let them ask questions
All of your children might have questions for you, but you may find the ones from the teenagers are more pointed than those from younger kids. They may want to delve deeper into your thought process and emotions. While it is perfectly acceptable to avoid speaking of some issues, especially those that will put your ex in an unfavorable light, you should be as open as possible. Make it clear that they should always feel free to talk to you and ask questions as long as they do so in a respectful manner.
Teach them skills
Even though your marriage didn’t last, you can still teach them the skills that they need to have a successful relationship. This includes how to be an active listener and how to have compassion. The way you interact with your ex can teach those skills, as well as how to compromise. These are life skills that can help them in all forms of relationships, including intimate, social and business relationships.
The parenting plan that you set for a teen is usually much different than what you need for a younger child. Be sure to think about what is best for the teen when you make the points for the plan. You might find that a flexible plan works better than a strict one.