Teens inquire about the impact of divorce on teens

by Marla Ruhana, LMSW

Q: What do you feel are some of the main causes that lead to divorce?

A: Previous generations did not have the technology that we have. Their focus was more on community and their role within it. It seems that people today are more focused on the "I", we are raised to believe "we deserve the very best and not to settle for less". Whereas, cultures and the generations before us, were focused on the "we" their role in the community, family, and social structure as a whole, not their individual happiness. Elizabeth Gilbert talks of marriage and different cultural views and perceptions in her new book, Committed. Scott Peck, MD also explores the myths of romantic love in his book, The Road Less Traveled.

It is imperative that we educate ourselves on relationships, seek out professional help as a means of preventative medicine not only when our relationships are in trouble, but to make them the best they can be. My feeling is that our expectations and lack of understanding of our own emotional needs as well as our partners contribute to divorce.

Q: Do you have many teens coming to you for therapy?

A: I see many teens for test anxiety, parents divorce, blended family issues, sibling rivalry, substance abuse, and self esteem issues.

Q: Do problems in teens lives like divorce ever lead to depression?

A: Without professional help, many teens keep their feelings bottled up, or cope by abusing alcohol or other substances as opposed to talking about the divorce and their feelings surrounding it.

Q: Do you find that teens often blame themselves for the divorce of their parents?

A: Yes, teens often feel responsible for their parents divorce, ie; if my grades were better they would not have fought. ALL teens need to understand they are NOT responsible for the divorce of their parents and it is not their fault.

Q: How do you help teens cope with their parents divorce?

A: Once teens accept their parents divorce, many adjust quite well and  teens often enjoy having the option of two homes instead of one and studies show that children of divorce whose parents have had joint custody are far more self reliant and able to adapt to change in later years.
I recommend that any teen struggling with divorce be proactive and seek out professional help. Those willing to seek treatment and not view it as a weakness have far better outcomes. 


Marla Ruhana, LMSW is a Clinical Social Worker in St Clair Shores, in private practice. She teaches in the Graduate School of Social Work at Wayne State University and facilitates retreats in Lexington, Michigan. To learn more visit www.marlaruhana.com. Ruhana is also a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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