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Helping your teenager cope with your divorce

For most adults, the end of a marriage can feel more like a death as you deal with similar emotions like anger, sorrow, guilt or a feeling of fear. When children, particularly teenagers are involved, coping with these feelings on top of dealing with your teenager can be quite daunting. 

Finding a way for your teenager to deal with the end of your marriage will not only help, but will lessen the amount of stress that can be endured throughout the process of divorce. This turbulent time could cause an already agitated teen to behave in a rebellious way if certain measures aren't taken. Here are a few tips to consider that may help to keep your teenagers' world from turning completely upside down.

Pay Attention - The emotional and financial stresses that can occur during divorce can make it easy to forget to make time for others. This is especially true with teenagers, since they are usually very busy with school and extracurricular activities.

Once the news of the impending divorce is broken, be sure to keep a direct line of communication and availability. Provide reassurance that the divorce is a result of issues that occurred solely between you and your spouse and is not their fault. Remain sincerely interested in the every day dealings of your teenagers' life including school, their relationships and extracurricular activities.

Maintain Civility With Your Spouse - No matter the reason for your divorce, maintaining civility and respect is important, particularly in the presence of your teenager. This is not the time to speak in an ill-mannered way with regards to your soon-to-be ex spouse.

Never encourage your child to choose a side or participate in arguments as this could be upsetting and just add confusion. If your or your spouse is involved in a new relationship and your child is exposed this person, refrain from asking questions about this person in order to obtain information.

No Spoiling Allowed - No parent wants to see their child unhappy. During the tumultuous time of divorce, it is tempting to attempt to compensate feelings of guilt you may be experiencing by giving your child material trappings. Instead, take some time to spend one-on-one with your child and discuss their feelings regarding the divorce. Above all else, giving your teenager reassurance that they are loved no matter the state of your marriage will help to ease the pain of divorce.

Even though your child may be older, they could still be negatively impacted by a poorly designed custody agreement. If you need help with a divorce or custody concern, you should reach out to an experienced attorney to get additional information about your case.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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Melinda Weerts PLLC
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