Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Teenagers often struggle emotionally when parents divorce

There is really no such thing as an easy parenting journey. Depending on the ages of your kids, you may have just survived the terrible two's or may be currently doing your best to navigate the teenage years. While every California family is unique, most can relate to the constant ebb and flow and ups and downs of parenting and everyday family life.  

Marriage problems, in particular those that lead to divorce, definitely have an impact on children and on parenting as well. If you are headed for divorce, you may want to research the potential effects your situation may have your kids' lives and think ahead about ways to help them cope. You'll also want to clearly understand your parental rights and know how to protect them if a legal problem arises. 

Teenagers often struggle the most 

Perhaps because they are older and able to understand more about divorce, teenagers often have the most difficulty coming to terms with such situations. The following information explains more about this issue:  

  • Teenagers have had more time with both parents than a younger child has had in life. This means they have more family memories, and considering the aspect that their parents will no longer live under the same roof can be emotionally upsetting.
  • Studies show it is not uncommon for teenagers to experience academic decline when going through a divorce experience with their parents, as well as in the months following a divorce as they are adapting to new lifestyles. 
  • There is evidence that teenagers who go from living with both parents to one at a time often struggle psychologically as time goes on. However, divorce is not the only situation that leads to this type of issue; if a parent dies, teenagers may experience similar psychological turmoil. 

Even if you and your spouse were to remain married, you'd likely still encounter challenges during your children's teenage years. Your divorce doesn't necessarily have to ruin your teenager's life, especially if you build a strong support system for him or her.  

More about kids and divorce 

Children are naturally resilient and adaptable. If your family is going through a difficult time, know you are not alone in your struggle. In fact, it may be helpful to talk to other parents who have gone through similar experiences to ask about what types of ideas have proved beneficial in helping their children cope with divorce. If your primary concern involves a disagreement with your spouse about a co-parenting plan, an experienced family law advocate would be a good source of support.

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