What you must say to your teenager to lessen the blow of a divorce.
1. It’s not their fault.
Teens are sensitive souls at a very vulnerable time of their lives. What you say now will make an impression. Let them know, despite how good or bad they were, that this break up is not in any way their fault.
2. That you love them.
I know this seems obvious, but it is not always done. Teens can think that a break means that you just didn’t love them enough to stay together. How many people say they stay together for the children? Better to let your teen know that you love them and you want them to see this is not a great relationship, rather than to stay together for their sake with everyone unhappy.
3. How things will change.
Teens worry how the break up will affect them and often the parents are too worried about themselves to worry about their child. Let them know what will and will not change as soon as you can and reassure them that you will do your best to keep things as they are now, if possible.
4. The new arrangements.
Teens automatically think they will lose a parent, so let them know as soon as possible what the arrangements will be regarding both parents spending time with them. Put their mind at ease if you can.
5. The truth.
Not the whole truth, but enough of the facts so that they can make sense of the situation. Telling them Dad has run off with his secretary and they may never see him again may be an emotional step too far, but letting them know that you don’t know where Dad is and when you may see him again is an honest, unemotional assessment of the situation. They are not fools; they will know what is going on and your job is to stay calm and deliver the facts in a way that can he heard, not surrounded by emotional baggage.
6. They are allowed to let their feelings out.
Most teens bottle up their feelings because they don’t want to upset their parents. Let them know it is OK for them to let their emotions out and talk about it and if you don’t feel able to do that with them, find a family friend, a therapist, one of their friend’s mothers or a caring neighbour to act as a listening ear. Make sure they have an adult that can listen and offer advice as warranted.
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