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It is a common misconception that, following divorce, teenagers become more self-sufficient and independent. The real truth is that teens often times appear that way, and their parents see this as license to back off and give them too much space, freedom, and not enough supervision and family time. The real danger is that teens can and will deal with divorce in potentially much more self destructive ways than younger children.

Has your teen...

• isolated herself?

•  stopped talking to you altogether?

•  developed a "whatever" attitude?

•  started skipping school and/or grades are plummeting?

•  begun hiding evidence of doing drugs or alcohol?

Or...

•  does he keep saying "Get the &%$# off my back, Mom?"

•  has he pushed or hit someone in the house?

•  is he showing signs of stress like: angry outbursts, talking back and swearing?

•  is he so angry and so out of control that you are scared of him?

And do you sometimes wonder to yourself that he will turn into an ax murderer?

If this sounds like your son or daughter, you'll want to keep on reading...

What may look like independence on the outside (spending more time alone, needing you less, pushing you away or exhibiting assertive behavior) is often repressed anger waiting to explode. While being exhausted and depleted yourself during and after divorce it may be easier for you to buy into the "myth" that your teen is handling divorce okay and that this somehow will make him or her stronger person.

However, your teen is crying out for your help, supervision, and limits, and needs you now more than ever. If you aren't already, here are a few tips to prevent your teen from going down the path of self-destruction while getting closer as a family and maintaining a healthy positive connection:

1. Take care of yourself by modeling appropriate ways of processing your own feelings. (If you are out of control it is license for your teen to do the same.)

2. Keep meal times, bed times, and family time as routine as before the divorce. The more things are the same, the less frightening this is for teens.

3. Tell your teen that you love him/her and that the divorce is not their fault. Keep checking in with, talking to, and comforting your teen. (You cannot say and do this enough).

4. Bring fun and laughter back into your home. Adopt a kitten or a puppy, so that your teenager can love and nurture something outside of him/her.

5. Encourage your son or daughter to bring friends over to your home so that you can provide supervision and remain involved. (You might even consider putting up a basketball hoop in your driveway!)

Divorce is a huge change for all family members. Just because teens may reassure you that they are okay does not mean that they really are. Take the time to teach your teen responsibility and accountability a little bit at a time. This way you can monitor your teen's progress and know for sure how much s/he is capable of handling.

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6 comments

  • Comment Link Mario Thursday, 08 May 2014 06:39 posted by Mario

    Thanks Rachel.
    What you wrote, sounds clear, right and sincere

  • Comment Link Rachel Fitzwater Wednesday, 04 September 2013 23:09 posted by Rachel Fitzwater

    If you want to make sure your child doesn't have those angry tendencies listed, do nothing that this article tells you. Your teen is coming to an age where this is how they are going to act all the time. You were a teenager yourself once. The best thing to remember is the more you try and baby a kid the more reluctant they become. Every teenager has secrets they won't want to tell you and I am sure you did too at that age. The more you supervise them or pressure them to think things are okay, the more they are likely to become angry towards you. I myself am a teenager whose parents have recently gone through a divorce. It was expected and the fights at the house were regular. I found the more I was able to just be alone and let everything sink in and become use to the situation, the better I was. Take into mid the perspective of a kid the age of your children, please and thank you.

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 18 March 2013 05:52 posted by Guest

    Divorce is not always bad, as teens do not have to see their parents arguments anymore.

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 03 February 2013 19:19 posted by Guest

    Teenage kids: My 15year old son curses at me, tells me I am nothing, I have nothing, his father has the money and that I have never done anything for him, He was so mean at one point I did start to get slightly afraid to be around him. My 18 year old daughter dont hardly talk to me anymore , months go by . she was verbally abusive to me and she also hit me .. She threw her temper tantrums to daddy and made him take my vehicle away and give it to her till he didnt let her drive it anymore either. She also said I was nothing and its his money not mine.. I was married for 24 years before I made him leave , he was always on drugs. I couldnt stand it anymore, then in the end , he cheated on me, sneaking in at 2 am all dressed up from his dates. My 19 yr old is in a world of her own, she hardly talks to me too. They all blame me for everything. Their father always blamed me for his drug use. They all broke my Heart. Their father is using them against me, he buys their love with money and things.. Is there anyone out there who can tell me how to handle this. I break down and cry alot still. I am still in the court battle , he dont want to part with any money, But I will not give that up. I need that to survive. My confidence is barely there. The father said at one point I was trash, garbage and that no one would ever want me, I was worthless. I went thru years of constantly being cursed at and talked about .. He turned them all against me .. He is the hero to them and I am the thorn in their sides. someone please give me some advice .. Thank you ...

  • Comment Link Guest Thursday, 22 July 2010 02:11 posted by Guest

    Help for Destructive Teenagers: Parents divorce poorly affects the mind and emotions of children. There are many kids living a depressed and miserable life after getting their parents divorced. Such teenagers become out of control in absence of proper supervision and care of parents. Adolescents suffering from critical stage of aggression and self destructive behavior can get sober and calm life in the supervision of certified counselors. Counselors not only help in treating the depressing problems of struggling youths but also reunite the families.

  • Comment Link Guest Thursday, 17 June 2010 10:17 posted by Guest

    Jealous female teen: I have trouble with a jealous teen from my fiancee's previous marriage. She and I get along fine, but put him in the mix and she gets jealous. She thinks she owns him and she controls our entire dating relationship. It is not fair and I don't know what to do. She has claimed to try to committ suicide and manipulates both parents to get her way and to get attention. I feel like the odd woman out and I don't know what to do. There are no set rules for her, she does what she wants. She controls and she argues with him about things. We never leave her out, she goes and does everything with us but it never seems to be enough. She gets so jealous when he shows me any affection. Please help with some advice in this matter.