Divorce prompts struggles for kids of all ages, but kindergartners handle the bad news far differently than adolescents. Arguably the most difficult age: the early teens, when already vulnerable middle school students are especially prone to emotional outbursts. Their response will depend largely on how you address the issue, especially as they cannot comprehend the subtleties of adult relationships as well as their high school counterparts.
Keep the following considerations in mind as you prepare for a difficult conversation with your middle schooler:
Don’t Baby Your Child
Your child understands way more than you think. Don’t patronize; treat your teen with respect. Use clear, concise language to explain the decisions you’ve made, and why those choices were necessary.
Don’t Divulge Sensitive Details
The toughest part about explaining divorce to your middle schooler? Striking that tricky balance between baby talk and adult details. In this situation, your teen is not your friend; this is not the time to vent about sensitive topics. Save the adult talk for your adult friends. Absolutely off limits: any talk of infidelity.
Don’t Attack Your Ex
Most children fare best when they can maintain strong relationships with both parents. In other words: it’s critical that you stifle any desire to turn your child against your ex. Teens already feel conflicted throughout the divorce process; the blame game will only intensify already existing anxiety. Ideally, both you and your spouse will be present for this conversation to show that you’re still a united front as parents.
No matter how you intend to address your divorce, your lawyer’s efforts can pave the path to a smoother divorce. This in turn will take some of the pressure off your teen. Call today to learn how the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. can produce a desirable outcome for both you and your children.