Divorce is hard on everyone. If you’re going through a divorce, you’re bound to have some hard feelings towards your ex. And in all likelihood, they probably have some hard feelings towards you too. The whole process is stressful, hurtful, and generally upsetting. You probably just want it to be done as fast as possible so you can put as much space between you and your ex as possible.
If you and your ex have a kid together, though, you can only put so much space between you. Parents who share custody and remain present in their kids’ lives still have to figure out how to co-parent even after a divorce.
This can be especially tough if you have different parenting styles or don’t agree on the rules for raising your kids. However, you still have to deal with your ex a little bit if you’re trying to raise a kid “together.”
Many teens who watched their parents separate and now live in shared custody may struggle to adapt to their new lifestyle. They may battle depression and anxiety, or they may turn to substance use to numb the pain. Watching your parents split up is hard, and it’s even harder if they don’t work well together after the divorce. As the parent, you need to put your differences with your ex aside to help your struggling teen.
At Sundance Canyon Academy, we see many students who have developed problematic behavior following their parents’ divorce. They struggle to understand the separation, and they act out based on anger and sadness. Some parents see this behavior as rebellion and want to send their son to a bootcamp or military school, but those programs rarely address the root issue. If your teen son has started getting in trouble at home or school following your divorce, consider sending him to a therapeutic boarding school where he can learn to address his feelings and develop positive habits for life.
How to help your teen deal with divorce
It’s really common for teens to start having some issues at home or school after their parents’ divorce. Though we don’t want our problems to affect our kids, divorce is rough on everyone involved. They have likely heard the arguments and the name-calling, and they have to adjust to a new lifestyle. You can anticipate that the transition will be tough for them.
Here are a few ways that you and your ex can work together to help your struggling teen.
It might be tough to keep your feelings about your ex to yourself, but try not to talk negatively about them in front of your kid. Remember, that’s still their parent. Though you might genuinely dislike that person and wish you’d never married them, you still have a kid together.
When your kid hears the negative things you both say about each other, they might feel like they have to take sides. Your teen should not have to take sides in the divorce.
Make time to talk
Your teen will likely have many strong feelings about the separation, even if they don’t typically talk about it much. Create space for your teen to talk to you about how they’re doing. Ensure your teen knows that both parents still love them and that the divorce will not change that.
Allow your teen to tell you how they’re feeling about the split so that you and your ex can make adjustments to your co-parenting plan if needed.
Address issues as they arise
If your teen starts to act out, address the behavior immediately. Don’t let it ride and don’t let it fester. Talk to your teen about their actions and get to the root of the problem.
If they are having trouble at school, bring their teachers or guidance counselors in on the conversations. Support your teen in getting the help they need to sort through any negative emotions, but let them know that unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated. The divorce cannot be an excuse for unacceptable behavior.
Your teen might not feel like they can truly open up to you or your ex about their feelings after the divorce. They might not feel comfortable telling either of you how much the split has affected them or how your behavior toward each other after the divorce continues to affect them. By going to regular therapy appointments, your teen will have a neutral person to talk to about their feelings. Your teen’s therapist will also give them sound advice regarding their feelings and behavior.
If your teen son’s behavior is getting out of hand or if you are worried that he is taking the divorce too hard, he may benefit from the supportive environment of a therapeutic boarding school. Students receive personalized therapy plans focused on addressing individual issues.
You can work with our counselors to get your son back on track. Contact us today to find out more about our therapeutic program for teen boys.