I chose this topic because a lot of parents are divorced and are leaving their child or children broken and torn. I am one of those kids, along with my brother. We are stressed from our parents fighting and homework and tests piling up at school.
Divorce is painful. It is painful for parents, for kids, and for close friends and family. We all respond to pain differently depending on who we are and our stage of life. Teenagers are not immune from the effects of divorce.
Every teenager and every family is unique. So too the reasons and dynamics of every divorce is different. Therefore it is very hard to predict or prescribe how particular teens will respond to their parents divorcing.
However there are significantly increased risk factors for teens whose parents get divorced. When compared with teenagers who do not come from divorced families, research has found teens from divorced families:
are more aggressive
are more anxious
have higher school drop out rates
are more sexually active at an earlier age
have higher rates of delinquency
have higher rates of drug and alcohol addiction
These findings do not say that all teens from divorced families will have these issues. Such research merely suggests that teens who come from divorced families are at increased risk. The increased risk factors highlight the nature of possible problems teens face when their parents divorce.
This post will address some of the more significant effects divorce has on teenagers.
The Adolescent Process is Interrupted
Adolescence involves teens gaining a sense of autonomy, an identity independent of their parents. This process requires teens to separate from their parents. When divorce happens teens may perceive their parents have separated from them.
Despite teenagers trying to separate from parents during adolescence, they still require the relational safety that comes from secure and healthy relationship with their parents. Teens develop by establishing autonomy at their own pace. It is often 3 steps forward 2 steps back type progress.
During divorce parents can become very self absorbed or distracted, leading to them giving less attention to their kids. This results in teens becoming very insecure about the nature or their relationship with their parents and feeling isolated or anxious.