You have a lot on your mind as you navigate your separation and divorce, but it is important to remember that the young minds in your family are also working through these tough changes.
Teens are not typically adept at expressing negative emotions in a healthy way, but there are some warning signs to watch out for if you suspect they are having trouble.
Problems at school
School is stressful enough for teens who are not going through major changes at home. If you have a top performer in your family who suddenly becomes disengaged, leading to poor grades, defiance or behavior issues, the mental strain of your family situation could be the culprit. Monitoring your teenagers’ academic performance and assembling a team of caring educators to provide additional support can help keep them on track during a difficult period.
Anxiety and depression
Teenagers are incredibly resilient, but that does not mean they cannot suffer intense emotional stress. When worried about important issues like moving homes, changing schools and rotating parents, teens are not always able to process their feelings in a healthy way. Signs of anxiety and depression to watch for include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased irritability or anger
- Social withdrawal
- Decreased motivation
- Appetite and/or weight fluctuation
- Excessive risk-taking behavior
As a parent, you may want to shelter your teens from your marital problems as well as the details of your divorce settlement negotiations and custody dispute. However, having open, age-appropriate communication is important for helping them deal with each stage of the transition.