During their parents’ divorce, some teens might struggle with the changes to their everyday life and face bits of emotional stress. While every child is affected in some way by divorce, teenagers seem to be affected the most simply because of their stage of life and the level of awareness they have. Teens are going through some funky changes of their own and are also dealing with the stresses of friends and school. They are starting to really discover who they are and where they fit into this world. These stressors, coupled with the confusion and potential pain of their parents’ divorce, can sometimes cause drastic changes in a teenagers’ behavior.
Fortunately, there is a lot that parents can do to help their teens through divorce. The most important thing to do is to focus on love and communication. And, more importantly, communicating this love and understanding at their child’s level. Below are 10 things parents can text to their teen to remind them they are loved, and to offer hope and encouragement during divorce.
“I love you.”
There’s nothing simpler or deeply touching than just saying, “I love you.” These three words help remind teens that they matter and that they are loved. Parents can add to this text by giving examples of why they love their child, such as, “I love you because you make me laugh,” and “I love you because you are special.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask me anything right now.”
When it comes to the divorce, parents should have an open door policy. Going through a divorce can be scary because there are so many unknowns. Children will have many questions and worries about the process and how it will affect their life. Knowing that there are no questions or topics off-limits will help teens make sense of what’s going on and build their trust and relationship with their parents.
“What made you smile today?”
Similarly, “What made you proud today?” Questions like these help teens focus on the positive things going on in their life. Asking deeper questions than the usual, “How are you,” or “How was your day,” requires teens to think a little more about their response.
“I’m thinking about you.”
With busy lives and full schedules it’s hard to feel connected with the people we love. Telling teens that you are thinking of them preserves your connection when you can’t be together.
“It’s okay to be mad, sad, or angry.”
Anger, frustration, and sadness are traditionally treated as negative emotions. Parents tend to immediately try to make a sad child happy, or an angry child calm. In order to begin to heal, children need to know that their feelings are justified and accepted.
“You are still you. Our divorce does not define you.”
Some teens might feel different from their friends whose parents are still together. It’s hard to not feel that the divorce happened to them as opposed to something that just happened. So, it’s important to remind teens that they are still the same person they were before the separation and divorce.
“There’s a hug waiting for you when you get home, if you want it.”
The important part of this text is the “if you want it” part. Sometimes teens don’t want affection during emotional times. Offer affection, but let teens choose to accept it or not. They might also want affection in a different way. So, you could text, “Is there something I can do to show you I love you today?”
“Everything you are feeling right now is normal. And, I still love you.”
In addition to validating a teen’s feelings, it’s important to remind them that no matter how they feel or act they will always be loved.
“Divorce sucks. I’m sad about it too.”
During separation and divorce, it’s expected that parents need to stay strong for their kids. However, removing the armor and façade of strength works wonders to show a teen that you are both on the same team.
“This is not your fault.”
Some children internalize their parents’ divorce and feel like they are the reason for the separation, or even the reason for all the problems that preceded it. Parents can decrease this feeling by reminding their child that they are not at fault.
Helping a child through divorce can feel daunting and sometimes impossible. But, at the end of the day, children just want to know that they are understood and loved.
Sara Woodard-Ortiz, owner of The HeartFull Journey, is an ally for heartbroken moms who are going through separation and divorce. Her goal is to help moms love themselves during and after divorce as a way to build a foundation to attract a new, satisfying relationship. Sara lives in Danville, IL with her 3 year old daughter, Olivia, and their 2 cats, Bianca and Katniss. When Sara is not working on her business you can find her playing Minecraft or drinking coffee at a local cafè.
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