Supporting Teens Through Separation: A Parent’s Guide

Dealing with separation or divorce can be emotionally challenging, especially when it comes to considering the impact it has on your nearly teenage child or teen. This is a time of change and intense emotions for everyone involved, and helping teenagers through this process can be extremely challenging. However, it is crucial for their well-being that you offer them the support they need during this difficult time. To help you with this, here are some strategies that you can consider:


It's important to have open and honest conversations with your teenager about the separation or divorce, even though it may feel overwhelming. Instead of having just one conversation, think of them as ongoing talks as your teen starts to process and understand what's going on. During this time, it's important that your teen feels heard and understood, so give them the opportunity to express how they're feeling. By actively listening to what they say, you can work together to identify what they need to feel safe and reassured that things will work out in time.


Teenagers often experience strong emotions when their parents separate or divorce. They may feel angry, sad, and confused. As a parent, it is important to support and listen to their feelings without trying to jump in and fix how they're feeling. By acknowledging their emotions and showing understanding, you can help them feel more confident and resilient. Encourage them to talk openly and create a safe space for them to express themselves without worrying about being judged.

Stability and routine

It's important to keep in mind that your adolescent child may have practical concerns during a family separation. They may be worried about where they will live, whether they have to move away from their friends and school, and how they will adjust to living in two homes. 

To maintain stability and security during this change, keep to the same routine and activities as much as possible. This includes continuing to live in the same house or area, going to the same school, and keeping up with everyday activities. 

Even if you and your teenager are not living together full-time, staying connected and involved in each other's lives is crucial. You can maintain a healthy relationship by doing the same things you've always done together, such as playing sports, cooking, watching movies, or shopping.

Avoiding conflict

Make it a priority to minimise conflict in front of your kids. Witnessing arguments or tension between parents can be distressing for teens and may exacerbate their emotional distress. Exposure to hostility and constant conflict isn't good for anyone's well-being. Avoid discussing difficulties related to the separation or negative comments about the other parent in front of your child. If you need to vent, talk to a friend, family member or someone you feel comfortable with when your child is not around.


Work with your ex so you both prioritise your child's well-being. Keep your communication with your ex respectful and focus on making joint decisions regarding your teenager's upbringing.


It can be tough for adolescents to express when they're having a hard time, but there are signs that they may be struggling with a transition. Look out for increased anger, unwillingness to cooperate, spending more time alone, sleep or eating problems, lack of interest in usual activities, friendship issues, or risky behaviour.

It can be challenging to determine if your teenager's behaviour is due to the usual ups and downs of adolescence or if it's a sign of difficulty with the separation. Trust your instincts and don't jump to conclusions about what's causing the behaviour. If you're concerned about your teen's well-being, seek professional help.

Let your child's school know about the separation or divorce so their teachers are aware. They can look for changes in your teen's behaviour that indicate they might be struggling and suggest support options.

Despite the challenges of separation or divorce, you will get through this with time, find a new normal for your family, and even thrive. One of the remarkable strengths of teenagers is their innate ability to adapt to new circumstances. With your love and support, your teen can emerge more robust and resilient from the separation or divorce.

You need to pay attention to your physical and emotional well-being during this stressful time. Reach out to friends for support, look for a support group for parents going through a divorce, and speak with a counsellor about your feelings. By doing so, you'll be better positioned to support your child while caring for yourself.

Being a parent or carer of teenagers has specific challenges. Please don't feel that you have to do it on your own. As a counsellor specialising in working with parents of tweens and teens, I help parents like you find ways of strengthening their relationship with their adolescent child.

If this resonates with you, why not contact me today to schedule a session?