Question: Is my tween showing “normal” behavior during divorce?
Scenario: I am in the beginning stages of a divorce and I have noticed my 12 year old seems to be lashing out and becoming somewhat defiant and uncooperative. My question is two-part: Is this normal tween behavior during divorce and how can I support her through the process and get my daughter back.
Answer: Divorce is never easy – on anyone. As a mom who experienced divorce herself and as a parent coach who has worked with many divorced couples, here are a few things I have learned to support tweens during divorce.
Everyone deals with divorce in a very unique way. There is no formula so it’s impossible to know from one day to the next how someone, especially a tween is internalizing their experience. One day they could be sullen, the next joyful, the next angry, the next confused and the next melancholy. I taught myself to observe each of my kids every morning and look for clues as to how they were dealing with the situation on that particular day. I fully expected that later that day or certainly by the next day, they could be experiencing a whole new set of feelings. This helped me stay “fluid” through the process and before long I started to notice more consistent, “normal” behavior. By plugging into THEM, I felt more centered and calm myself, which influenced the entire family dynamic.
It is quite normal for anyone experiencing a stressful event, to have shifts in behavior that might seem random, unexplainable and downright aggravating. Remembering that the behavior is what is informing you about her internal feelings will make it easier or at least help to not take it personally, or to worry too much about it. Instead of talking to her about her behavior, talk about all the ways that she is dealing with the situation in a mature, kind and supportive way.
None of you will be the same after this experience. So allow everyone affected by the event to change accordingly. Look for the best, celebrate the future and let go of the past. There is nothing to be gained by going back and wishing things were different. They are what they are.
Question: Do you have a strategy or a resource that helped you through a difficult transition?