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A child's teen years are like a mid-life crisis. He or she wants autonomy, yet craves acceptance. Add divorce and this emotional rollercoaster gets even bumpier.

This last chapter of our exclusive firstwivesworld series, Your Child is Not a Statistic, will help you balance your 13- to 17-year-old's kid-like needs and adult aspirations. Remember, although it will seem far from obvious at times, your teen still need his parents — he just needs you differently. When your teenager experiences divorce, you play a significant role in how she deals with it. No matter how mature she seems, you should:

• Resist any temptation to regard her as a grown up and include her in your adult problems.

• Know that most teens — 71% according to a Gallup poll — believe their parents should have tried harder to save their marriage.

• Understand that teenagers will likely not only take sides, but try to exploit their parents' weaknesses.

• Be on the lookout for hidden signs of withdrawal and depression.

Here are some tips that can make it easier to explain divorce to your 13- to 17-year-old:

What is divorce?

"Divorce is a legal process that parents go through when they no longer want to be married because they are no longer happy together anymore and have hurt each other too much. It means that we will no longer be married to each other, but we will always be your parents."

Why did it happen?

Some possibilities include:

"There are many reasons why. And it's not the specific items we argued about, but the whole way we approached things. You may have heard us argue about [fill in the blank]. But those weren't the real problems. Many couples don't see eye to eye. But it's all about the attitude you take toward one another, especially when you disagree."

"We didn't listen to each other enough. You know how sometimes you want to say something so much you don't even hear what the other person is saying? That's how your mother/father and I got to be. We cared more about what we wanted to say and not enough about what the other person was saying."

"We didn't take the time to thing How will he/she feel about this? Before we said or did something that hurt him/her or made him/her angry. That was very unfair."

"We fought too much and didn't learn how to talk to each other about our feelings without being angry and hurting each other."

"We didn't know how to stop arguing and walk away from a fight."

"We didn't make enough time to be alone together and be romantic. Couples can always find quiet time to be together. We just didn't do that. (This alleviates your teen's fear that he may have been the reason you two didn't have enough time.)"

"We were not strong enough for each other, and we let other people and things confuse us about our relationship." (This keeps your teen from concluding that interference from others-affairs, in-laws, children-caused the divorce.)

"If other people or things came between us, it was because we let them. Each of us had the responsibility to make sure these outside things didn't affect our relationship, but we failed."

Will we still be a family?

"Yes. Even though your mother/father and I are getting a divorce you will always be part of us. We both still love you and always will. You and Mom/Dad and you and I will always be families. But Mommy and Daddy will not be in a family together even though we both belong to you."

What will happen to me?

"You will be able to see both me and your mother/father a lot." (Then spell out custody and visitation arrangements as clearly and in as much detail as you can, stressing that the child will have some input into the plans.)

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2 comments

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 31 May 2011 12:48 posted by Guest

    I can't believe what this: I can't believe what this article is saying. So you have to explain to your teen that you didn't try enough ( we don't love you enough to make the effort.... is what you imply) with all those stupid reasons. ""We didn't take the time to thing How will he/she feel about this? Before we said or did something that hurt him/her or made him/her angry. That was very unfair."

    "We fought too much and didn't learn how to talk to each other about our feelings without being angry and hurting each other."

    "We didn't know how to stop arguing and walk away from a fight."

    "We didn't make enough time to be alone together and be romantic. Couples can always find quiet time to be together. We just didn't do that. (This alleviates your teen's fear that he may have been the reason you two didn't have enough time.)"

    "We were not strong enough for each other, and we let other people and things confuse us about our relationship." (This keeps your teen from concluding that interference from others-affairs, in-laws, children-caused the divorce.)

    "If other people or things came between us, it was because we let them. Each of us had the responsibility to make sure these outside things didn't affect our relationship, but we failed."

    I don't know very many people who have little problems like this an decide to get a divorce. How about " We went to marriage counseling for 7 years, and we have made all the effort to keep the marriage together. This is the best that we can do, and we don't want you to think that a marriage like this is a good example of a good relationship."
    I can't believe I am even wasting time to respond to this Ridiculous advice.

  • Comment Link Sandra Weiss Monday, 21 June 2010 09:34 posted by Sandra Weiss

    Husband abandoned me while in the hospital,left with his 13 year: After living together for 2 years,We got married,It was the second for both of us. I have 2 children now they are 34 and 25.He from his first marriage,has a 25 tear old who lives in Virginia where she is in the Navy,and a 22 year old who lives with his first wife's lesbian lover.The first wife ran around on him with her buddy.
    At the time I ran a large not for profit and due to him and some backstabbing,I was fired.We fell head over heels in love,but he was never truthful to his children about me.I got him custody of the children by bribing the first wife's Dad with support.He signed over custody to us.

    I treated those kids like my own,walked the youngest through her first menstrual period and taught the son how to drive. The first wife played games with the children and we went through insanity getting the custody.

    The youngest Carrie,felt abandoned and bugged her brother so much he moved out.My eldest son and I begged him not to go.But off he went to live with Mom's lesbian lover.
    She would cry and though tantrums and he got sick of it.

    The eldest visited at XMAS of 2006,at midnight she came into my home and said he brother wanted to stop by on XMAS day,I asked her why he did not call and she was just enabling him.We fought horrible
    2 days after Xmas of 2006,i was in a car accident and after that I don't remember much,my husband tried to commit suicide that November and I felt like the whole world was crashing in and I was hospitalized.
    Because I had no money,I pawned the youngest Playstation.I admit and have tried to make amends but her father forbids me to come to their home.The youngest and she live 4 blocks away.
    My son is a computer expert and he made her a computer for a present the year that they left and went to live with his sister.
    On the computer my son was able to find all sorts of lesbian porn and stories she wrote that I don't know if they are true or fiction.
    So since that day I have lived in poverty evicted 5 times and have major health issues.I am not allowed to go to my husband's home because his daughter emotionally black mails him.She runs crying hysterically up to her room.With her computer and the best of anything money can buy!
    We agreed to go to counseling,and he was so rude and arrogant to me,he is pushing for divorce.I want to go confront her,I am sure she knows about the stuff on the computer.

    Her eldest sister blames me and says I should grow up and move on. The shrink,told us to spend 2 hours per week together.My husband replied sarcastically and then are we going to add an hour a week.

    The shrink said I acted like a victim and I had to sit there and listen to lies.Now he is not giving me any money because my health is so poor I got SSI/SSDI. What to do,part of me loves him and part of me hates him! I am confused!!!!