There is no doubt talking with your teen about divorce is challenging and even embarrassing in a way. To make the conversation a little easier, all you have to do is prepare before you sit down to talk. Anticipate questions your teen may ask, plan careful answers and manage your own anxieties ahead of time. It will make the conversation much easier and you will be better equipped.
What and how to say it?
Keep things simple. Try to be empathetic and address your most important points up front. Below are important ideas to remember while talking with your teen.
- Tell the truth. Your teen needs your honesty. But long and complicated answers might only confuse them.
- Say “I love you.” Letting your teenager know your love for them isn’t changing is a powerful message.
- Talk about changes. Prepare your teen for the changes in their lives by acknowledging that some things will be different now, and other things won’t. Tell them you will work together to make things as easy as possible.
- Don’t criticize your spouse. It’s important to be honest, but without being critical of your spouse. This can be difficult, but with a little subtlety, you can avoid criticism.
How much information do I give?
Parents need to pick and choose how much to talk about. Think about how certain information will affect your teen. A few tips below …
- Be age-aware. Simple answers usually are enough but your teen may need more information.
- Share changes. Talk about changes in living arrangements, school, and other activities, but don’t overwhelm them with the details.
- Keep it truthful. Whatever you share, make sure you’re honest, the truth will eventually come out and might not make things any better.
What I need from my mom and dad: A child’s list of wants.
Source: University of Missouri
- I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write letters, make phone calls, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
- Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
- I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. Please support me and the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
- Please communicate directly with my other parent so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth.
- When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don’t say anything at all. When you say mean, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side.
- Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life. I count on my mom and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problems.
It’s OK to feel uncertain in this type of situation. It’s normal. I think it’s best to trust yourself and believe you can successfully help your teen feel loved, confident, and happy.
Such a transitional time will have challenges, but all it takes to reduce your teenager’s pain is by making their well-being a top priority.
Let us know your thoughts below! We would love to hear from you.
And, if you want to learn more about your teenager, go to teenagesons.com.