Parenting Teens After A Divorce


A Note From The Santa Monica Teen & Family Therapist

It’s often difficult for teens whose parents have split apart. Wherever possible, try to communicate directly and privately with the other parent about matters relevant to your children. Read on for more suggestions. – Sandra

A teen doesn’t like the feeling that he or she must act as a messenger between hostile parents. Adolescents want parents to talk with each other so that the messages are communicated the right way, and don’t feel like they are going to mess up. It is unfair to make your teen carry messages to your “ex” because you find it too awkward or aggravating to do so yourself.

Avoid arguing and discussing child support issues in front of your teen. Most teens upon hearing these things feel that their existence is a burden on their parents. Do not put your teen in the middle of your child support disputes.

It hurts your teen very much to hear one loved parent criticize the other loved parent. When teens hear bad things about one parent, they hear bad things about half of themselves. Even if you are sure you’re right, try to avoid criticizing the other parent around your kids.


  • You’re lazy/stubborn/bad tempered, just like your mother/father.
  • Your mother/father put you up to saying that.
  • Your dad/mom doesn’t love any of us or he/she wouldn’t have left us.
  • You can’t trust her/him.
  • He/she was just no good.
  • If she/he loved you, she/he would send your support checks on time.
  • Someday you’ll leave me too, just like your father/mother.

All of these remarks raise fear and anxiety in your teen.

It is very difficult for the teen of divorced parents to cope with feeling “caught in the middle.” If they want to tell you about time spent with their other parent (and they usually don’t), listen closely and politely, and then stop. Encourage your teen to love both parents. Asking your teen to take your side in any situation regarding your ex-spouse can create a tremendous amount of stress for your teen. Your teen wants to love both of his or her parents. Avoid putting teens in the position of having to take sides.

Complaining to your teen about how lonely you feel makes them feel guilty and sad. It’s not healthy for a teen to be consumed with worry for their parents’ ability to survive. Let your teen be a teenager. Your teen will have the best chance of growing up to be a functional human male or female with both parents as role models and nurturers. This means that there should be some way of them having access to the good each parent has to offer.” (Acknowledging Ruben Francia)

If your teen or young adult child is struggling socially or emotionally, I can help you to discover the cause and remedy it.

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