Family separation and Teenagers
Going through a separation when you have teenage children can pose extra challenges for you. As you know, teenagers can already be feeling emotional and uncertain about themselves, and may find it difficult to cope with the breakdown of your relationship.
Tips for parents of teenagers
• Don’t fight in front of your children. It really helps your teenagers to come to terms with the situation if they see your separation as a means by which you resolve differences and move on from a relationship that hasn’t worked.
• Express your sadness at the fact that your relationship didn’t work out. This shows your teenager that you did value the relationship even though it hasn’t worked.
• Your teenagers do want to respect you. They will see your behaviour as a blue print for themselves. Separating with respect will allow your teenager to continue to have the greatest respect for you as parents and themselves.
• Support each other as parents. This, more than anything will promote the emotional health and well-being of your teenager, now and throughout their lives. Remain positive about the other parent and encourage a healthy relationship with them.
• Remember that your teenager has rights, and each of you has responsibilities. Your children will always be your children however old they are. Your emotional well-being is your responsibility, not that of your teenager. Your teenager has the right to be heard and their views taken into account, but it is you, the adults who must make the decisions.
• Remember that your teenagers will want and deserve age appropriate answers. Involve them and be as open and honest as their age requires.
• Check in regularly with your teenager, explaining more than once if necessary, that they are not responsible for the break up of your relationship.
• Express your continued love and support for your teenager, even if they make decisions you are unhappy about. Teenagers need to feel loved just as much as younger children.
• Listen, validate and respect the views of your teenager.
• Maintain current household rules and discipline structures for your teens, this helps them maintain a sense of stability and certainty in a changing environment. Transfer these rules to the home of the non-resident parent. This allows your teenager to see that as parents, you are still working together.
• Remember to make time for fun together.