By Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, JD for GalTime.com
Question: Please help me to help my teenager through my divorce. I don't know what to do! Dear Ms. Captain of the Ship, Navigating the divorce boat through the emotional life of a family is tricky business. And like any successful journey, it requires a map to guide you through the turbulent waters that surround it.
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These waters are especially turbulent when teenagers are involved. The teenage years are marked by hormonal surges, a hunger for independence, a search for individual identity and a need to both reject and embrace parental love. For these reasons, your divorce map should incorporate the following considerations:
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1) Your teenager is your child, not your friend: Do not share the intimate details of your divorce with your child. 2) Your teenager needs to feel loved: Even though your divorce will drain you emotionally, make sure you find lots of love to give to your child. 3) Your teenager needs to feel safe: Do not share the fear, uncertainly and vulnerability you feel during your divorce with your children. They have enough fear, uncertainty and vulnerability of their own. 4) Your teenager needs a safe place to process his/her thoughts and emotions about your divorce: Provide your teenager with an independent forum to talk about their experience. 5) Your teenager needs to know the divorce is not about them: Assure your kids they did nothing to cause your divorce. 6) Your teenager needs to learn that change is a part of life and that they can learn and grow through it: Even though you may feel like a victim in your relationship, you need to model strength and fortitude for your child. While a divorce changes the structure of a family, it needn't destroy it. You have the power and capacity to successfully navigate your divorce with love, dignity, and strength. Stay on course and always, Love on, Dr. P.
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