Tweens and Divorce
with Amanda Craig
Managing a “Tween” through divorce can be dramatically different from elementary age or full teenagers. It’s that interesting age between 10-12 in which your kids aren’t kids anymore, but they’re not quite teens either. There’s a different strategy in term things to watch for and ways to communicate with this group.
In today’s society, we tend to expect a lot of Tweens because they act older. They tend to be very aware of social norms and what other families look like, and they are starting to develop emotional wellness and their own relationships, but they don’t necessarily have the language to express what they are feeling.
Often, they will have physical symptoms that mask the emotional…a stomach ache, a headache. It’s really that their feeling anxiety or stress, but they express through something physical. When they say, “I have a stomach ache….”, what you want to say, “What’s going on? You didn’t talk about that last night….” Engage them in conversation and listen for cues. If the stomach ache started when they were working on homework, or they don’t want to go to school, the issues is likely at school.
Moving from mom to dad’s house can also create anxiety. They may be inadvertently or deliberately leaving things he/she needs at the other parent’s home. You can say, “I wonder if you’re feeling a little sad because you’re not comfortable in this house yet”. You have to gauge your kids and how they are managing through conversation, asking questions, and planting the seeds. “How are you feeling about…?” Or, “You know you had nothing to do with the divorce, right?” Even if you’ve said it before, they need to hear the message often.If you see any drastic changes in eating, sleeping, or withdrawing from school, that could indicate that something more serious is going on. And if it is, there are great therapists and teen groups you can get involved with.