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If divorce and raising a teen hold anything in common, it’s that both induce far more stress than you ever thought possible. What happens, then, if your teen chooses to act out while you’re in the midst of a messy split? These tips will help you deal with your teenager’s bad attitude while also maintaining your own mental sanity as you navigate divorce:

Don’t Let Guilt Or Shame Take Over

Yes, divorce is tough on adolescents, and yes, your teen’s behavior may be, in part, related to your split—but no, this is not exclusively your fault. Resist the urge to cast blame—on yourself or on your ex. Remember, hormonal changes and social pressures make adolescence challenging regardless of family circumstances.

Demonstrate Empathy

With teens, acting out is often a sign of distress. Your teenager may not be as malicious as he or she seems; problematic behavior could be either a stress response or a cry for help. Accountability is essential and your teen should definitely be held responsible for bad choices—but you should also show empathy for the difficult circumstances that may have contributed to this situation.

Don’t Hesitate to Seek Therapy

If you suspect that your teen suffers from a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety, it is imperative that you seek intervention from a trusted therapist. It’s possible that your divorce exacerbated an already existing condition of which you were previously unaware. One-on-one therapy can provide a much-needed outlet for your teen, while family therapy will help you and your teen (and ideally, your ex) handle conflict more effectively. Your child may not be alone in requiring therapy; make arrangements to meet with your own therapist if necessary. If you demonstrate a commitment to mental health, your teen may follow suit.

As you deal with the complications of child custody and support, look to the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. for guidance. No matter the age of your children or the nature of your divorce, you can benefit from compassionate legal support.