Parents help their teens through a divorce
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How Can You Help Teens Struggling With a Parent’s Divorce?

Parents help their teens through a divorce

Divorce is hard, especially for children. Teens often face many negative consequences following their parent’s divorce, including loss of identity, emotional turmoil, and difficulties in future relationships. Yet, parental guidance and support can make all the difference during this period.

Here are some ways parents can help their teens feel better after a divorce.

Teens and Addiction Risks

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) define trauma as “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that an individual experiences as physically, emotionally harmful or life-threatening. Trauma has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.” Most youths experience their parents’ divorce as a trauma. Notably, teens who experience trauma are more susceptible to turning to substances.

Subsequently, we suggest that parents pay attention to any signs of their teen struggling to handle the divorce and other related changes in their lives. Some divorce-related changes include:

  • Moving and selling of their childhood home
  • Changing schools
  • Having to make new friends because of moving
  • Division of time between parents
  • Schedule changes that negatively impact their time with friends or extracurricular activities

Such significant changes resulting from childhood trauma can impact their mental, emotional, and physical health. Though SUD is a complex condition, data shows a strong link between trauma and developing addictions.

How Does Divorce Affect Teens?

The effect of divorce on teens is complex and varies from person to person. However, it impacts youth emotionally, relationally, and mentally including:

  • Fearing the Future: Following their parent’s divorce, teenagers might feel like nothing will ever work out for them or their family again.
  • Disappointment: Teens might feel disappointed with themselves or their parents because of poor communication and past interactions with their parents.
  • Lack of Self-worth: They might also have difficulty believing that they’re worthy of love and happiness, especially if they blame themselves for the parent’s divorce.
  • Lack of Identity: Teens need a strong sense of self to develop confidence and self-esteem. When they lose that identity, it can create confusion and doubt.
  • Emotional Turmoil: Divorce can be an overwhelming experience for teens, especially when figuring out their own emotions and how to deal with challenges. Your teen might find themselves going through cycles of sadness, anger, and even depression as they try to cope with the changes happening in their life.
  • Difficulty Forming Relationships: Divorce can make it difficult for them to develop healthy relationships in the future. They might not feel ready to put themselves out there because they still feel vulnerable.

Despite these consequences, there are ways for parents to improve the odds and conditions for their children.

Help Your Teen Feel Better

Though challenging for all involved, you can find powerful options to make the best out of this situation for your children. Some options include:

  • Being Emotionally Supportive: You can’t fix your teen’s feelings after a divorce, but you can help them accept the situation. Take time to listen, empathize, and talk through their feelings. We also suggest spending more time with your teen, guiding them to make healthy choices in food and lifestyle, and offering emotional support.
  • Improving Their Social Life: Most teens consider extracurricular activities meaningful and a place of belonging. Such activities serve as outlets to release stress and emotions. We suggest parents look for activities that might help their teens feel better about themselves, such as volunteering or joining extracurricular activities like sports, art lessons, or church youth groups.
  • Seek Counseling: If your teen is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, they may need professional counseling or psychiatric help from a mental health professional. Treatment centers, such as Clearfork Academy, specialize in helping teens with post-divorce trauma.
  • School Support: You can also work with your teen’s school counselor, teachers, or social worker to ensure they’re getting the care they need.
  • Create Familiarity: Make sure your teen has comfortable and familiar places in your home that lend support and security. It’s essential for them to feel like they have a “home” where they can relax after a tough day.
  • Seek Input: When possible, involve your teen’s decisions regarding specific life changes. Consider holding discussions with them before and after you make your final decisions. Doing this will let them know what’s going on in their life.
  • Therapy: Consider individual or family therapy for your teen. Family therapy helps teens struggling with any number of personal or familial issues, including anxiety, depression, anger management, and learning coping skills. Evidence-based treatments like CBT also provide comprehensive support for your teen.

Divorce is one of the most challenging decisions a person can make. The emotional and psychological impacts can be devastating to a teen’s emotional well-being. However, there are ways for teens to cope with divorce. To start, consider family therapy, acknowledge their feelings, and create a safe space for them. At Clearfork Academy, we utilize comprehensive treatments to help parents and teenagers resolve teen trauma or divorce-related behavioral issues. We also provide the space where teens can discuss their feelings and receive support from professionals, family, friends, and peers. Our goal is to address and treat any underlying mental health and substance use disorders, including co-occurring disorders. If your child is currently in need of professional support, don’t wait; get help today. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To find out more about our programs, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604.