Youth Coach Liz Sorton talks about the best ways of dealing with teenagers when going through divorce and separation
Posted on September 8, 2011
As a coach that works with teenagers and being a child of divorced parents when I was 16, having been parented through a divorce and listening to what my young people clients tell me, I have a few suggestions of some hotspots to avoid:-
o When deciding time spent with each parent – don’t just suddenly expect your children to spend a whole day together if they only spend a couple of hours of week before the split, too much pressure for both sides
o Why not ask your children first and then speak to your ex-spouse and then make mutually acceptable arrangements, be careful not to say things like “it needs to be a full day otherwise I will be travelling for longer than you are there”, maybe they don’t want to be there for a whole day?
• Don’t use your children as messengers, its fine to say give Mum or Dad a call, don’t expect them to relay messages on your behalf, its not fair on them.
• Be careful not to worry them with adult issues, they are best dealt with by adults, you don’t want your children worrying about things that they can’t do anything about.
• Lead by example – Your examples become permanent images, which will shape their attitudes and actions for the rest of their life. It’s important to be responsible, consistent and loving with your teenager. This also holds true for the relationship you have with your spouse, ex spouse, your parents, and other family members and friends that are also a part of your teenager’s life.
o Own up to mistakes when you make them, and communicate open and honestly with all family members.
• It’s also important to find a relationship with your ex- spouse that works for you both. Let your teenager see you communicate in a positive and healthy manner with one another.
o You’ll soon see your teenager patterning many of his behaviors after your own. So make sure that what you say and do around your teenager will help build a strong sense of security and self esteem.
• Parents should agree on how to discipline their children. To become reliable to children, both parents must be consistent in dealing with similar situations. In a situation where the parents are separated or divorced, disagreeing with each other over upbringing can create a confusing situation for children. They should make a concerted effort to keep their child’s best interests at heart and sit down with their child and line out the rules and expectations and the consequences for violating those rules. Both should agree that the intended discipline is fair, and apply it consistently in a firm yet fair manner in each home.
• On access days, encourage them to chat about the day they have had, if a new partner’s name is brought up, don’t start putting them down or bad mouthing them, it may make your children feel guilty if they enjoyed their day
• If you feel that perhaps you may need some emotional support do some research and make some phone calls for perhaps some counselling, some support on parenting strategies for the future, or some family mediation.
Liz provides one to phone Skype, phone and face to face coaching (by arrangement in London only). A complimentary strategy session is always available for parents to find out more about what coaching is about and how it may help their personal situation.