If you understand how divorce affects your teenagers, it will help you to realise that despite the fact they are older and able to comprehend more about life; they still suffer terribly and feel anger, betrayal, and deep insecurities when their parents divorce. There is every possibility that they may also take it upon themselves to bear some of the blame for the divorce. For so many unfounded reasons, they are inclined to believe that the divorce is in some way, their fault.
They all too often trust that their parents really will get back together again after the divorce. Further, they convince themselves that their missing parent will soon become re-involved in their lives once again.
Its immaterial if your divorce was through Attorneys you instructed, or by means of a DIY divorce, it still amounts to the same result as far as your children are concerned the destruction of the close family circle.
Teenagers of divorcing parents may work harder at pleasing both parents just in case it was their fault that their parents are divorcing. When that doesnt bring the miracle they were expecting, they are so confused about the whole situation that they apportion blame to either or each of their parents and also harbour anger and resentment towards them. Eventually, they take the separation as a personal issue and feel that they are no longer loved. They rationalise this by thinking that if they were properly loved, their parents would not be divorcing.
Reassurance is vital that the children were not responsible either for their parents marriage or for their separation and divorce. They need to be reminded that their parents arguments are not about them personally either. Even if theyve overheard their parents verbally fighting about primary residence of the children, it is not the childrens fault. Battles over primary residence and maintenance, whether they are in Court, or between Attorneys, or between the parents, should not be the worry of any child; and teenagers who are quick on the uptake to hear things that may be about them but dont really concern them can fall into the depths of depression over such matters unless they receive regular and constant reassurance of their innocence - and in the right way.
Whenever a situation confronts your teenagers and results in their negativity in some form; it needs to be disarmed with the assurance to those teenagers that it is not their fault. This is something you cannot tell them often enough. They are cross, bewildered and in pain and appear to be difficult to handle: when in fact they need love, comfort, support and encouragement all the things a parent should be giving them in any situation.
Its often easier to blame ourselves when people hurt us or let us down in some way, instead of analysing the faults of the other person. We forget that its all about the situation and resolving it instead of trying to distribute guilt, fault and blame.
Those teenagers who take out their anger on one or both parents are actually acting out their frustrations about the situation and showing their feelings of guilt and futility. Problem is, when this is not dealt with in a construction manner, these teenagers can become self destructive. They need to be shown how to channel their anger and frustrations and learn how to forgive themselves and their parents for the situation in which they all find themselves.
However, just bear in mind that sometimes your child may be behaving in a certain way not because of something you or your Ex have done, but because it is normal child behaviour. So before you start blaming yourself or wondering what goes on in your absence with your children and your Ex; and before you suspect your Ex of trying to sabotage your life via the children and alienate them against you, first discover what is and is not normal behaviour.
The first stage is as toddlers when they explore their bodies and take pleasure in touching themselves and their genitalia. They engage in self-stimulation and should be gently directed to do this type of thing in private and not in public.
If we dont realise that this is normal, it is too easy to jump to conclusions and suspect sinister and unthinkable things about the Ex. It is vital not to draw the childs attention to this behaviour of theirs otherwise the whole situation could be blown out of proportion.
The second stage is as pre-schoolers when they spend time and energy playing hard on playground equipment. Maybe learning to ride their two-wheelers, or climbing on the jungle gyms whatever the activity, this is a time of injuries bruises, bumped heads, broken arms and twisted ankles. If we fail to be aware of this as a norm, then in the context of separated/divorced parents we could make the mistake of suspecting abuse when, even in the happiest of families, children get hurt through this type of play.
The third stage is as school children who try to get their own way and try manipulating their parents against each other in order to impose their will. These children use whatever schemes work for them and their goal. The children could tell you that the other parent lets them do this or that but you really need to check that your children are telling you the truth before flying off the handle at your Ex. Even in the happiest of families, children employ this type of power play. So in the context of separated/ divorced families, it is all too tempting to believe the child and blame the Ex over something you should have checked on first.
Unless the parents discreetly check the truthfulness of each situation, the circumstances can be escalated to assume mammoth proportions that are loaded with suspicion and dramatic innuendo.
Sometimes there is foundation to the matter, but all too often it is a child acting out its anger.
Good knowledge of normal child behaviour is essential so that realistic assessments and judgement calls can be made when needed. Such an assessor should be able to know the difference between the sinister Ex and the manipulative child.
So, be careful, because sometimes, if it waddles, quacks, and looks like a duck then chances are, its just a duck.