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How will Divorce Affect your Teen?

There are many considerations that weigh into the decision of pursuing a divorce, with one of the most important being how it will affect the children involved. There’s no debating that children will be affected, but when considering teens, the impact can be quite significant.

Why are teens impacted so dramatically by divorce? It’s possible that teens are more mature and react to the breakup of their family unit with a greater sense of the reality and emotional impact than younger counterparts. Teens by nature of their age are already working towards establishing independence from their parents and therefore have less time under their parents care to adapt to new family and living situations naturally.

There are many studies done that point to the youth impact from divorce, including: high school graduation rates, reading scores, child poverty and teen pregnancy rates.  It’s important to understand these findings and the risks posed to teens involved in divorced families, but inevitably, this is still only one factor in the decision, and the truth is that close to half of all marriages in the State of Rhode Island do eventually end in divorce.

If divorce is a consideration there are some steps that can be taken to help your teen with this transition:

  • Carve out time to spend with your teen. Adults in the midst of divorce naturally are very inward focused, and as a result can appear distracted and inattentive to children. Teens respond well to parental involvement in their lives. Try to find the time to figure out how your teen needs you and invest time in this relationship.
  • Establish a Good Vibes Only Policy. It’s important to share feelings as the process of divorce unfolds, but talking negatively about an ex-spouse with your child will only harbor unhealthy feelings and negative energy. If your child is angry and needs professional support, tap into resources available that will provide your child with tools that they can draw upon to channel this energy positively.
  • Maintain a consistent routine. School, friends, team sports, and activities all provide a sense of routine that is especially important during a time of crisis in your child’s life. Children of divorce often feel out of control in their own lives, so maintaining a sense of order in their daily routines will provide a welcome sense of predictability and help to flag warnings early if your child’s behavior suddenly changes.

If you are considering divorce, consult an attorney knowledgeable in Rhode Island divorce and child custody laws to discuss your personal situation.