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Teen behavioral issues after divorce

Coping with a divorce is difficult for everyone in the family, especially teenagers who are vulnerable to mental and emotional turmoil because their brains are not yet fully matured.

If your teen is acting out in the aftermath of your split, the conflict between you and your ex is likely the culprit.

Manifestations of emotional trauma in teens

Young people need time and space to grieve the loss of the life they had when their parents were together. If teens cannot process their emotions in a healthy way, they start to can express their feelings in unhealthy ways:

  • Academic and behavioral problems at school
  • Anger, defiance and non-compliance toward parents and authority figures
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining bonded relationships
  • Trouble sleeping due to stress, anxiety or depression
  • Unnecessary risks such as sexual promiscuity or substance abuse
  • Suicidal ideations or attempting self-harm

Working with your former spouse to spot and address potential issues with your teenager can help to prevent severe and dangerous outcomes.

Tips for helping teens adjust to a new normal

It is important to let your young family members know that you are available to listen and talk through any concerns they have about custody and time-sharing. Try to maintain open and honest communication, include them in making decisions and be a consistent, reliable presence in their daily lives. Your teen may even benefit from professional mental health counseling.

It can be tough to deal with a struggling teen while you are also mourning the loss of your marriage, but addressing early signs of mental stress is essential for maintaining healthy family bonds.