Planning The Conversation
One bit of advice I can give anyone is to sit down as a family. It's hard and really upsetting but it helps once you get through it. Stay out of the arguments (which I know I found the hardest), don't take sides and just explain how you are feeling.
Deciding how to tell your teenager about your separation is difficult. When doing it, think about your teenager’s emotional and behavioural development so far and consider what is appropriate for them to know. Each teenager is different and therefore may not react the same as others.
Don’t overplan the conversation so that you come across unnatural. Your teenager knows you well and will spot this and might think you are making things up or hiding things.
Be the first to tell them
Don’t let them find out from anyone but you.
Tell them face-to-face
Do not tell them over the telephone, via email or text. Make sure it happens face-to-face.
Be in a comfortable and confidential environment
This can be your home or any other private space where you can have an open conversation. Make sure this intimate discussion is confidential. Do it at a time that is convenient for your teenager. make sure you are sitting at the same level as them to give them more confidence.
Talk to your teenager together
It is very beneficial for both parents to be present for his conversation, if at all possible. Talk to your partner about it early and plan what to say together so there is only one version of the story. If both parents being present is not an option, try to have separate conversations but agree ahead what you are going to disclose.
Keep the boundaries
Decide the boundaries of the conversation in advance and stick to them – for example, details of the relationship with your partner should be out of bounds.
Give it time
There will be many conversations over time. Allow your teenager to assimilate the enormous messages before ploughing on. They simply won’t be able to take it in all at once, particularly if they have not seen this coming.
Be prepared to be blanked
If your teenager does not want to talk to you, do not panic. It is painful and it will take them some time to understand such a big change. They might find comfort in their peers and try to spend more time with them. If this happens, ensure continuous positive interactions with them and try to engage in activities that you have enjoyed doing together in the past. If they only have very short answers, resist the urge to lecture them – teenagers hate that.
Our conversation guide for parents of teenagers has been created by our Voices in the Middle young people with the support of Woolley & Co Solicitors.
More content and videos can be found on their website.