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How parents can help their teens through divorce

Teenagers are stuck in a place between childhood and adulthood, so they have much to figure out. When they’re saddled with news that can upend the status quo — like mom and dad are heading for divorce — it could have a negative effect on them. Statistics show that between 20 to 25% of teens who are affected by divorce have difficulty adjusting. But there are things parents in New Jersey can do to help their teens cope with a new reality.

Some young people who are watching their parents go through the divorce process may start to have issues at school or problems in their social lives. They may become depressed or have trouble sleeping or focusing. They can become withdrawn, sad or angry, promiscuous or resort to drugs or alcohol. Parents can help by continuing to be supportive of their child and making it clear they’re always available to talk, to listen and that it’s perfectly all right to have intense emotions about what is happening.

A teen may find it helpful to talk to a mental health professional about what is going on. Parents need to reiterate to their child that they will do whatever they can to help their child to feel better, to keep them safe and to help them make healthy decisions. Professionals do say that allowing teenagers to grieve the end of their parents’ marriages in their own, healthy ways is important.

Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but it may be particularly so for older children who are trying to handle their own issues. A New Jersey parent who has questions about the divorce process and how it might affect a teen, may wish to seek advice from a lawyer experienced in family law. Seeking legal guidance — especially when it concerns the best interests of a child – is a sensible step.