If you think divorce is difficult for the couple involved and for its small kids, think about dealing with a teenager on a regular day. Then, think about divorce. And, in the end, try to get both factors in the mix and see how you would deal with such a situation. If you’ve reached this page, you are probably in the aforementioned situation and already asking yourself what to do. There’s no recipe for a calm divorce which does not hurt your teenage kid, however, there are some principles you should follow in order to be able to deal with the situation in a good manner.
Ask for respect from your former partner. Also, offer respect.
In the midst of a tormented relationship there’s rarely respect. However, when a child is involved, this is crucial. You may hate your partner, you may have the most awful feelings towards him or her, yet he or she is still the other parent. And you should keep a close relationship with the one you will be co-parenting, as your child’s present and future depends on both of you. Also, by respecting each other you will show your teenager that you are respecting his stormy years too. Adolescence is a lot, and his parents’ divorce is making it worse, so try to draw a nice relation with your ex in order to keep a very good one with the child.
Be honest and open, truth always comes to surface.
People don’t end marriages out of pure boredom. There may be money problems, addiction problems, another person involved or simply growing apart and having different dreams and plans for the years to come. Your child is on his way of becoming a grown-up himself, so don’t tell him lies. No matter how dark the truth, even if you hide it, it will come to light sooner or later. And in case you lie and you are caught (which is not very difficult to happen with a tech-savvy teenager or at least one with techie friends!) it will get way worse for you and your ex partner. Be honest from the start, after all, if your child does not have a romantic relationship yet, he will have one sooner rather than later and he should have a positive role model in his father or mother when it comes to dealing with separation.
Talk openly, all the time.
You may not want to expose your sins in front of your child, yet, the deed is done, and you now have to deal with the aftermath. Yes, he may be angry, sad or even disappointed in you (the same goes for your ex), but he’s surely conscious of the fact that he is your child and your responsibility. So talk openly and engage him in decision making. One of his parents will clearly move from home, step with which his life will change. Who does he want to stay with? Would he like a 50/50 shared custody? Does he prefer to stay with one of you during the week and with the other in weekends? What about holidays and his birthday? Your teenage child is mature enough to be able to take some decision which will make not only his life, but also yours, as parents, easier. So treat him as an adult(-to-be) and discuss with him every single step that takes you from married parent to divorced father or mother.
For an adolescent, divorce can be a dreadful experience, yet it’s important for him to know that he can survive it and get out of it powerful and more experienced. It may be a rocky step to adulthood, yet with your help he can get out of it wiser.