Teenage boys and conversations about dad’s and divorce

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Friday

“In the context of divorce, what do teenage boys expect from their fathers? This was discussed when teenagers have shared time with both parents and when there are conversations about the ‘absent’ parent.”

These broad suggestions are tough to implement especially in the context of a so-called “nasty” divorce – some are more civil than others.

A useful filter is the knowledge that there was a time when the former spouse was a deeply loved person with whom vows were publicly exchanged.

• Teenagers expect honesty. I’ve never met a highschooler who prefers sugar-coated or patronizing information. Most (appear to) “move on” rapidly.

• Ask questions rather than unload unsolicited information. The teenage boys I have counseled usually have zero interest in their parents marriage or divorce.

• Avoid conversations about the other parent when angry, feeling betrayed, or when financially stressed. Teenagers often “read” or attribute inappropriate self-blame.

• No matter how mature, or loving, resist making your child your friend, confidant, companion, or therapist. He (she) is not.

• The reasons for the divorce are (usually) none of the child’s business and ought to stay that way. I concede, sometimes it is obvious or public knowledge.

• Don’t turn an ex into a hero or villain. Your child already has a take on the reality.

• Teenagers want their parents to be strong, happy, productive and disinterested (not uninterested) in their teenage lives so they too can be strong, happy, and productive.

I hope there’s something helpful here.

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