It’s clear divorce can negatively affect a teenager’s family and personal relationships on an emotional and psychological level. And as divorce negatively affects your teen, they may develop significant trust issues towards family members, and even towards a romantic partner later on in life.
1. Personal Relationships
A person who is going through a divorce might question what a meaningful relationship is. It is even more likely your teenager is asking the same question. A teen who has trust issues might be guarded or unwilling to make commitments or might act in manipulative ways to keep people around them from leaving.
Divorce can affect a teenager’s ability to trust both themselves and their partners.
2. Relationships with Parents
Teenagers may lose trust in their parents during the divorce process, especially towards the parent who moves out of the home. This is true because this parent is less available, which usually causes a lot of anger for the teen. Your teen may also feel pressured to take sides with one parent or the other if the divorce gets ugly and if parents seem to mistrust each other.
Divorce brings major changes to the family lifestyle; your teen might not trust that you’re able to meet basic needs on a emotional or financial level. This can be more painful for a teen of the same sex as the parent who moved out of the home. Or, if the family’s financial situation changes, the teen might not trust the parents’ ability to provide a safe living environment.
4. Control Issues
Teenagers may distrust their parents because they think they’re putting their own needs above everyone else.
If your teen has a younger brother or sister they might feel the need to be parent-like during the parents’ divorce. They may also feel uncertain about their parents’ ability to fulfill their role as a caretaker. This will usually occur if one or both parents are experiencing some type of depression, anxiety or other stresses about the divorce.
Here are 5 steps to help you recover with your teenager:
Step 1: Open the lines of communication
Ask your child open-ended questions about what he feels, and what steps can be taken to rebuild the trust. Clear up any misunderstandings and decide collectively on the definition of trust. Make sure to understand and be open minded about each others thoughts.
Trust is a two-way street and both parent and teen have responsibilities in the process of reconnecting. As a family, continue to come back and talk about boundaries, progress and any setbacks.
Step 2: Explain the benefits
Since teens can be a little self-absorbed, explaining how a trusting relationship will benefit your teen can work. For example, offering your teen the privilege of a later curfew, permission to drive the family car, or taking a trip he’s always wanted to go on. Explaining how trust is relevant to him and how it can improve his life can make home more peaceful and easy.
Step 3: Support your son by giving him space.
It’s inevitable your teenage son will make mistakes. But they will also have great accomplishments. In a supportive environment your son is probably more likely to manage his mistakes better than if he didn’t have a positive support system. This will also teach him how to cope with stress or bigger mistakes later on in life. Just remember to let him know you’re there for him if he falls down. Give him the latitude to explore life and what it has to offer. Your teenage son is learning how the world works.
Step 4: Respect your teenage son.
I’m sure you all know the saying, “When you give respect, you get respect”.
Treating your son like a worthy individual who you think is able to be responsible, mature, and make good decisions can help your son be open and honest with you. Teenagers with high self-esteem and self-respect are more likely to make responsible choices and have better relationships with parents and friends.
Allow and help your son voice his own opinions, involve him in decisions, listen, show confidence in him and help him create a positive vision for his life without criticism. Criticism can be considered the death of a quality relationship.
Relationships take time to develop and grow. If you want your son to talk to you try giving the above suggestions some practice. I think things can change for the better. It won’t happen overnight but continue to learn about yourself and your son.
Learning is continuous.
Step 5: Trust yourself
Even if both parent and teen are working hard to rebuild trust, both people must set reasonable expectations of themselves and the other person. Trust grows slowly and it’s a continuing process of setting boundaries and personal and collective growth which is necessary in every relationship. With quality communication, patience, and personal growth you will create a new and improved relationship with your teenager that is fulfilling.
Interested in more about your teen? Go to Teenagesons.com