How Divorce Impacts Kids of All Ages: 13-18 Years Old

As we have been discussing, divorce has different effects on children, depending on their ages.  It's so important to be aware of this when a family is experiencing divorce, in order to help that child cope in ways that are most beneficial to their age group.  Today we will discuss how divorce impacts teens, ages 13-18. Characteristics:

  • Teens of this age range are working on solidifying their identity and establishing their sense of "self" in relation to rules and regulations of society.

Separation issues:

  • When divorce happens, teens of this age range may feel embarrassed by the family break-up and react by idealizing one or both parents.
  • This age group is more likely to place peer needs ahead of family and may not want to visit the non-resident parent.

Signs of distress:

  • Withdrawal from family
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors (sexual promiscuity, drug and alcohol use)
  • Worry about own future relationships

Suggestions:

  • Set consistent limits that are balanced with more freedom and choices
  • Allow them to have input about visitation, but not so much that the teen is burdened by having to decide custody and access schedule.

If your family or a family you know is going through divorce, we hope this information has been helpful in making the transition period more understandable.  If you would like additional reading information, check out our resources below.  Thank you for reading, and we hope to see you next week!

Resources:

  1. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce, the Sandcastle's Way by Gary Neuman
  2. Was it the Chocolate Pudding?:  A Story for Little Kids About Divorce by Sandra Levins and Bryan Langdo (for kids ages 2-6)
  3. Mama and Daddy Bear's Divorce by Cornelia Maude Spelman (for kids ages 2-6)
  4. This is Me and My Two Families:  An Awareness Scrapbook/Journal for Children Living in Stepfamilies by M.D. Evans (for kids ages 4 and up)
  5. Ginny Morris and Mom's House, Dad's House by Mary Collins Gallagher (for kids ages 8-12)
  6. Help! A Girl's Guide to Divorce and Stepfamilies by Nancy Holyoke (for girls ages 8 and up)
  7. The Divorce Helpbook for Teens by Cynthia MacGregor (for teens)

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.