Divorce can be incredibly stressful for every member of the family, but when you have teenage children, the effects may be more damaging than you think. While one study noted that rebellious or negative behavior in teens can change how parents interact with each other and may even cause divorce, most teenagers find themselves caught in the middle even as they try to process their own emotions. If you are separated from or divorcing your spouse, there a few changes you may want to look for in your teenagers that can indicate they may not be handling the situation well.
1. Changes in Sleeping Patterns During a separation or divorce, your teen’s sleep may become disrupted. You might notice that he or she sleeps more often during the day, either after school or on weekends, or that they are awake long after curfew. These changes are usually normal and can be caused by either depression or anxiety over the divorce, as teenagers are prone to believing the split is somehow their fault. Before you turn to over-the-counter sleeping aides for your kids, have a talk with their pediatrician and ask what you can do to get their sleeping pattern back on track. Limiting the use of electronics before bedtime may help if they have trouble getting to sleep, and more regular bedtimes can help settle their circadian rhythm if they are sleeping too much.
2. Rebellious Behavior
If your teen starts engaging in rebellious behavior in the midst of your divorce, this can add stress to the situation; however, in most cases, this is quite common. Your teens may simply be testing the limits of the new rules brought around by the divorce, such as having to visit one parent at a new home or having to obey new court limitations or visitations set up by a family court attorney, such as Cordell and Cordell.
Skipping school, experimenting with drugs, and engaging in reckless behavior, such as shoplifting or vandalism, may be ways your teen might rebel. It is important to remember that their emotions may be shifting rapidly and causing this change in behavior. Try to be as patient as possible and talk to your teens or consult a family therapist if you believe your kids are in immediate danger of harming themselves or others with their actions.
3. A Change in Academic Performance
One of the most common changes you may notice in your teenage child or children is a slip in academic performance. Honor roll kids may start to make Cs instead of As and Bs, and those who usually bring in steady Bs or Cs may start to fail one or two classes. Divorce can cause them to lose focus or become uninterested in schoolwork.
You may be able to help your teen regain their concentration by focusing more on their schoolwork and talk less about the specifics of the divorce. For example, you might tell them that you hired a law firm that specializes in family divorce, such as Cordell Cordell, but avoid specifics and become an active participant in their school activities instead. Help with homework and talk to their teachers to keep them engaged in each of their classes.
4. Favoring One Parent Over Another
This behavior can be especially upsetting for you, especially if you are the parent your teen seems to be blaming for the divorce. However, fighting fire with fire and returning the animosity is not likely to help. Address your teen’s anger directly and ask them about their feelings. Expressing them may help you both understand the real reasons behind them and be truthful with each other about the reasons for the split.
Divorce can be difficult for teenagers, who are old enough to understand what divorce means but may not be mature enough to deal with its ramifications. Patience and awareness can be key to helping them through this rough transition.