How to Help a Rebelling Teen Cope with Divorce

Teenage rebellion is often a part of growing up. Trying to find control, seeking attention, and impressing friends are a few of the reasons why teens engage in defiant behavior and disregard established rules.

Parenting a child through the teen years is an arduous task under the best of circumstances. Dealing with a rebelling teen while going through a divorce is next-level difficult.

Reasons Teens Rebel

While it might seem like the teen is trying to make your life difficult, the reasons for their rebellious actions and attitudes are more complex.

Teen rebellion is a combination of hormonal, societal, and developmental influences:

  • Brain Development. The teen years are when the prefrontal cortex of the brain develops. The prefrontal cortex is linked to logical reasoning and personality development. As this part of the brain evolves, teens will put their newfound abilities into practice. Making decisions, and mistakes, are an important part of development.
  • Hormonal Changes. The estrogen in girls and the testosterone in boys elevate and cause obvious physical changes. These hormones also cause an increase in emotions with higher levels of aggression and spontaneity.
  • Establishing Independence. Teens crave more time away from their parents. They want to choose their clothes, their hair color, and their friends. They may also enjoy the attention they get from asserting their independence. To appear more adult, they participate in risky behavior. They also want to fit in and may imitate the lifestyles of their friends.

Managing a Teen’s Rebelliousness During Divorce

Teens and rebellion are like salt and pepper. They go together. Your child isn’t rebelling because you are divorcing. Teens can see divorce like a free pass for more inappropriate behavior. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize their defiance and strengthen your relationship.

You can help your teen during your divorce by doing the following:

  • Reliability. Your teen could believe they can abandon their responsibilities because their parents abandoned their marriage. The best way to counter this is to continue being a parent. Honor your commitments and expect them to do the same. Show your teen that you are reliable and that they can still count on you.
  • Responsibility. Show your teen you know they are older. Giving them household responsibilities demonstrates that they are an integral member of the household. Listening and talking to your teen shows them you value them. While you don’t want to talk about the details of the marriage or the divorce, ask them their thoughts on their future living situation. Giving them a say in custody decisions illustrates that their opinions matter.
  • Respect. Modeling respectful behavior with your former spouse is a sign to your teen that respectful behavior is your expectation. When you are your spouse can work together, your child knows that you remain a united front in parenting, even if you are no longer married.
  • Predictable Schedule. Minimizing the disruption in your kid’s schedule will help them feel more grounded. From music lessons to sports to time with friends, maintain the schedule they had before the split. Your post-divorce living situation should allow your teen to keep important relationships and activities.
  • Time Together. Teens are notorious for wanting to put as much distance as possible between themselves and their parents. It’s all part of their showing their independence. While some separation is healthy, don’t use their teen years and the divorce as an excuse to step back. Set down the smartphones. Talk to them about the changes. Go see a movie or attend a concert. Play a board game. Any activity that provides an opportunity to connect will help keep the communication lines open and bolster your bond.

The divorce process can be complicated and take considerable time. The final divorce decree does not end the effects of the divorce on your children. Keep an eye out for any erratic behavior. Notice any personality changes. Don’t be afraid to call in expert help when needed.

At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC., we understand the complexities of divorce go beyond child support and dividing marital property. Our attorneys always remember that people are impacted by each decision. We give each client compassionate and practical legal advice specific to their circumstances.

Find out how we can help you with your divorce. Schedule a consultation by calling (845) 605-4330 or submitting our online form.

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