How Divorce Affects Adolescents

Posted by Brooke M.
Divorce adolescent children

Divorce, Adolescents and Children

In our society divorce is almost considered a norm. However, it doesn’t make the process any less painful for adolescents and younger children. To fill the void of information about the impact of divorce on adolescents, CompleteCase.com recently interviewed psychologist Robert Stewart. Stewart is an accomplished cognitive behavioral psychotherapist (CBT), a form of therapy originally developed to help treat depression.

To better understand how divorce affects adolescent views on marriage, Stewart cited significant differences between how adolescents and younger children experience divorce. The first area focused on the fact that young adults are more secure, independent and have the ability to see both parent’s perspective. Where children tend to be more selfish in their thinking and often blame the parents failed marriage on themselves. Further, adolescents tend to distance themselves from the situation while young children feel greater impact because they are unable to foresee potential benefits of the divorce. Identification of these behaviors is important as it can help inform parents on how to guide and provide the appropriate support to their children through the divorce process.

According to our expert a young adult is very much susceptible to having their beliefs tainted from a divorce. This has the ability to affect their future relationships by being overly dependent, insecurity and anxiety from concerns of abandonment. Some young people might avoid relationships altogether with the thought they are all doomed for failure. The nature of the divorce also can play a huge part in the affect, for example if it is due to infidelity that can cause young adults to lack trust in future relationships.

Though divorce is a traumatic experience, there can still be some positive effects on an adolescent. Stewart elaborated on how young adults can use a divorce to their advantage through relationships and personal growth. This experience allows for an individual to learn more about themselves and how to cope with stressful circumstances. This helps build character in a young adult and resilience. Adolescents can use the divorce to improve their own relationships by learning from the mistakes their parents made. Divorce also encourages the youth to take their time choosing the best suited partner for them and not rush into anything.

Overall adolescents seem to show a higher resiliency when going through divorce than children. Young adults may not be researched as heavily as children are who are experiences divorce but according to Stewart, they handle this traumatic event both negative and positive. This age group is more independent and have the capability to understand why divorce would be a reasonable solution for their parents. Needless to say this is a life-altering change no matter the age youth experience divorce, however there can be important learning experiences from this traumatic event.

More about Robert Stewart BSc Hons, MSc CBT, Couns Cert.

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  1. I really thought it was interesting that adolescents have a higher resiliency when going through a divorce than children do. That being said, though, I think that it’s still important for parents to create an open relationship with their adolescent kids and make sure they are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the children still feel loved and valued by each parent. Anybody can be affected by divorce no matter their age, so ensuring that the communication is there will ensure that this transition is more manageable and coping is easier to do. Thank you for sharing.