11 to 18 Years (Adolescents)
At this stage, children are becoming more abstract thinkers. They develop and discover their own identities. Children begin to move away from the security of the home. Early adolescence is not so much a time of rebellion as a time of exploration. Adolescents focus on their lives and their peers, not the home and parents. The adolescent is very aware of what is going on in his or her parent’s lives. Not only are they aware of what surrounds them, but they also are very critical about the situation. At this stage, most of the time they will not accept divorce as an answer.

In later adolescence, the teenager is poised for launch to the world outside, where he or she gains total independence. Peers and school become more important than family. However, a separation between parents would emotionally hurt the adolescent. Before teenagers leave for college, much of the time they spend at home is time they wish to spend alone. The later adolescent’s thinking skills are becoming more finely tuned as he or she is slowly becoming adult abstract thinker. Parents should still be there to provide their children with guidance, even though they may not always want it and may indeed resist it.

In adolescence, a teenager may feel anger and even hatred, and he or she may try to take advantage of both parents. Behavior becomes very unpredictable because the teenager feels alone, and he or she tries to blame one parent. A child of this age has a better grasp of the financial problems a divorce may create.

Parents can keep up as much communication as possible and share as many experiences as possible. A parent should keep an eye out for the child’s actions with school, and take care not to involve the child in parental disputes. Family counseling may be well advised, particularly when one parent embarks on a new relationship. It is important to maintain household rules.


Possible Reactions:
  • Feels anger and hatred
  • May try to take advantage of both parents
  • Behavior is very unpredictable
  • Feels alone
  • Tries to push the blame on one parent
  • Feels more mature than others
  • Financial worries

Remedy Ideas for Parents:
  • Keep up as much communication as possible
  • Share as many experiences as possible
  • Keep an eye out for the child’s actions with school, etc.
  • Do not involve the child in parental disputes
  • Consider family counseling
  • Watch you actions regarding new relationships
  • Have household rules and maintain them

Common Questions and Answers
Q. What are the most important factors in determining how a child will react to the breakup of his or her parent’s marriage.

A. According to Edward Teyber, the author of Helping Children Cope with Divorce, the "most important factors that shape long-term adjustment are 1) the amount of parental conflict children are exposed to and 2) the quality of parenting or childrearing competence they receive."

Q. What channel marker can a parent use to navigate when entering the straits of divorce?

A. "[I]t is not the divorce itself that causes problems for children, but the way parents respond to the children and the quality of parenting they provide afterward," Teyber says.

Q. What are the common problems parents frequently face?

A. According to Teyber they are separation anxieties (if one parent left, won’t the other one go too?); reunification fantasies (if the child is "really good," maybe the parents will come together again); delusions of responsibility (that the child himself or herself is to blame).



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THE DON’Ts – Good parenting through divorce has a dimension that is negatively defined. Good divorced parents do not speak badly or make accusations about the other parent in front of a child. They do not force a child to choose sides, or use a child as a messenger or go-between, or pump a child for information about the other parent, or argue or discuss child support issues in front of a child. In short, they do not use a child as a pawn to hurt the other parent.
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