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5 tips for helping teens get through a divorce

When a teenager has to go through a divorce with their parents, it's no surprise that their actions may seem unusual. Some decide to stay away from home as much as possible. Others develop anger issues or depression.

Every child is different, so it is important for parents to pay close attention. Teens, like any other children, may need help coping with their parents' divorce. How can you help? Here are a few tips.

1. Be straightforward with your teen from the start

Parents sometimes wait to discuss divorce with their children until the children have already put together the pieces. They know that their parents aren't happy, so delaying the discussion doesn't do anything but cause additional stress. Inform them of the divorce as soon as you can.

2. Talk to the adults in your teen's life

Nothing is more stressful than being asked about a sensitive situation time and time again by those who don't realize that your parents are separated. Talk to the adults in your teen's life, like coaches, teachers and tutors, so they know to avoid causing more stress for your child.

3. Monitor your teen for changes in behavior

It's pretty typical for teens to have changes in their behavior over divorce. Having the family unit destroyed, even though it's later in life, is still traumatic. Deal with any changes in behavior immediately, instead of waiting to see if your child will "grow out of them."

4. Be there to talk to your teen

Another issue is when teens have no one to talk to. You should make yourself available to your teen, so they can talk to you about their concerns. You should also make sure a neutral third party is available to talk to, since your child may not feel comfortable talking to their parents.

5. Don't talk about your private life with your teenage kids

Finally, avoid talking to your teen about your private life. They don't need to know about every date or possible lover. If they feel comfortable meeting someone, that's great, but it should be left up to the teen to decide in the time following a divorce. Pushing a teen to meet someone new, whether it's frequent or not, could cause them to become angry, irritable or to lash out. Some may develop concerns over relationships and struggle in the future to have their own.

These are five tips to help your teen during and following divorce. You're the first line of support, so be there for your teenage child.

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