–Soon-To-Be Single Mom
Dear Soon-To-Be Single Mom:
Bottom line–getting a divorce will rock your teens’ world.
Yet chances are your children have already experienced the negative affects of
your strained relationship to your husband. Yongmim Sun, assistant professor at
Ohio State, conducted a National Education Longitudinal Study with over 10,000
students and concluded that: “The negative effects that we associate with
divorce are actually evident in teens at least one year before the marriage has
ended…. It’s not accurate to say divorce doesn’t matter at all, but it is true
that much of the damage to adolescents has already occurred before the divorce.”
, August 2001).
So how will your teens react? There is no way to tell for certain, but generally
teens and pre-teens dealing with their parents divorce may become:
1. Angry and highly critical of their parents’ decision.
2. Depressed or withdrawn from both parents, while seeking stronger connections
3. Disillusioned with marriage and feel rejected by one or both parents.
4. Better behaved–hoping that this will save their parents’ marriage.
5. Involved with risk-taking activities (i.e. skipping class, turning to drugs
and alcohol, becoming sexually active, etc.)
6. Withdrawn from one parent as a form of punishment–while taking the side of
the other parent.
Fortunately, you can mitigate some of these negative effects by:
1. Maintaining current family routines (as much as possible) and ensuring that
your kids have quality time with both you and your husband.
2. Resisting the urge to lean on your teens for support and instead seeking
counseling and the support of your own friends.
3. Taking a vow of silence whenever you feel compelled to speak ill of your
husband while in the presence of your children.
4. Ensuring that your teens have support from friends and family. Research
suggests that support from extended members of your family and community can
make a world of difference when it comes to having your teens successfully
survive a divorce.
5. Finding a counselor for your teens that they like and can confide in (school
counselors are sometimes useful to consult).
6. Continuing to expect respect from your teens and maintaining your current
Divorce (and the lead up to divorce) puts a strain on everyone in the family. By
striving to make your divorce as amicable as possible, by finding support for
your teens and counseling for you, and by staying connected with your children
you will get through this–and so will they.