Divorce is painful on a child at any age. While divorcing when children are older may spare everyone awkward moments of enforced access, it does very little to help ex-spouses cope with teen rebellion.

According to Psychology Today, there are two common forms of adolescent rebellion – rebellion of non-conformity and rebellion of non-compliance. Rebellion of Non-Conformity occurs when your teenager exhibits behavior that deliberately opposes the ruling norms such as experimenting with different looks and identities. Rebellion of Non-Compliance shows up when your teen asserts individuality from authorities such as parents and coaches.

Although your teen may view this period of rebellion as a means to display their individuality, it can also be harmful. Adolescent rebellion can cause teens to engage in self-defeating or self-destructive behaviors. It can also lead them to experimenting with high risks activities. To cope with these behaviors during a divorce, ex-partners might want to consider the following solutions:

Model Respect

If you expect your teen to respect you and your ex-spouse, then you must model respect as well. Despite the difficulty of the issues involved in a divorce, it is important that parents demonstrate respect toward one another and toward their children throughout the process.

Open Up The Lines of Communication

Rather than nagging and threatening your child, open up a dialogue between you, your ex-spouse and your teen about the offensive behavior. Spell out the problem and encourage your teen to put her feelings into words. It’s also a good idea to ask your teen to assist both parents in coming up with solutions to any stated problems.

Establish Guidelines With Clear Consequences

Even though you and your ex-spouse may live in different homes, it is essential that you both are on the same page when it comes to establishing guidelines for your rebellious teen. Make sure that both parents agree with and equally enforce clear boundaries and consequences for inappropriate behavior.

Add In Some Praise

In addition to modeling the behavior you seek from your child, be sure to praise your child’s behavior when she does the right thing. Be specific with your praise so that your child knows you recognize her behavior and you attribute that behavior to a specific positive attribute you see within your teen’s character.

Accept That You Can’t Control Everything

As with any other stressful situation during a divorce, it is important to remember that you cannot control your teen. So the change in your teen’s behavior might not be immediate. Just like adults, kids need time to process and to trust that any change is real and long-lasting.

If you are considering a divorce and need help protecting the teens in your family, send us a message or call us at (314) 454-9100. We can help you plan your next steps.

Who is Mary Neff?

Mary Neff has experience working with families and children which makes her a sought after divorce attorney, litigator, and mediator in family law. Mary’s extensive experience in child development and parent education allow her to represent families in what can be a difficult time in their lives. Mary’s practice area of family law includes divorce, mediation, litigation, custody, visitation, paternity, modifications and post-dissolution matters.

Mary’s philosophy is to help couples design their divorce so that it meets their individual needs for the future as well as the family as a whole. Mary is passionate about mediation because she sees first hand how low conflict resolution saves time, money, and the children. Mary’s passion for children resonates from her time as a parent educator in Illinois. She also is a Guardian ad Litem in Missouri.