Puberty, Parental Divorce Create Consequences for Teens

  • There are emotional and behavioral consequences of parental divorce for teens.
  • Visitation schedules can be affected by rebellious teens.
  • Girls and boys are physically affected in their pubescent development because of parental divorce.

"Through communication and parental guidance, these future men and women can lead healthy and functional lives."

Puberty can be a difficult time in a child’s development. Seeing the various changes in their body and coping with all of these new elements to their lives all at the same time can be challenging. If you add parental discord and divorce into the mix, studies show that this can affect human development moving forward.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, puberty is a process that takes place between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys. However, depending on the level of emotional stress during childhood, puberty can begin at earlier ages and that stressful childhoods can lead to shorter adult heights, according to the New York Times and Atlas of Science.

Emotions rising

Even though research shows that divorce occurring earlier in a child’s development has a greater effect than later stages, divorce still can manifest into outward behavior during a child’s teen years. With all of the changes going on with their bodies, teenagers manifest a lot of grievances, and divorce can intensify those grievances, according to Psychology Today.

The rebellious and dissatisfied nature of their ever-changing personality will rise to the surface, giving them an opportunity to pull away, which is an opposite effect of divorces taking place at an earlier stage of development. Those divorces cause a clinging behavior, while losing confidence and acting sad, due to the loss of their perceived family unit and security.

While teens and adolescence pull away from their parents during the divorce process, they can still feel betrayed by the lack of familial unit, causing them to become less vocal and communicative and angrier. Later in their pubescent development, they can find themselves impacted by the divorce through their discovery of romance.

The level of vulnerability that comes with discovering love and romance at a young age can cause an adolescent to question the stability of their future romantic relationships. This question is based on the only romantic relationship they’ve experienced, which ultimately ended in divorce: their parents’.

Parental role

Rebuilding their sense of trust and commitment to others can be a tricky task, but a necessary one, in order to be a good parent.

Additionally, the amount of borders and walls that a teenager typically tries to assert create parenting obstacles to watch out for, and furthermore, divorced parents could use additional motivation to stay accountable of their teenage children. According to the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, the law can often create a bumper to give parents incentive to be parents, especially if they are divorced parents or do not have custody.

The reports say that while parents are not able to entirely control their children at that age, they can be held accountable for the misbehavior of their children as an economically efficient way to ensure that the children receive as much positive influence as possible.

Outside influences like school, friendships, media, and society can sway perception at times, but it is important to put for the effort and be the parent that your child needs during a vulnerable time in their life.

Visitation problems

With asserting their own resistance to parenting, it brings difficulties to the topic of visitation. Frequently, a teen or adolescent is attempting to create a life and identity for themselves with their own friendships and activities, making scheduling challenging.

Because of the typical state requirement that both parents have reasonable access to their children, barring proof of actual risk of harm to a child from contact with a parent, a visitation schedule will be hashed out with enough wiggle room for possible future change, if both parties find it necessary. At some point in a pubescent teenager’s development, they may find themselves failing to appear for scheduled visitation. This type of behavior rarely happens once and can lead to a pattern of ignoring the visiting parent.

Despite the resident parent’s pleas, this type of behavior by the pubescent teenager still can result in a revisit to family court. The ever-shifting hormones of these young men and women can be a telling explanation for this level of continuing behavior.

Physical and social changes

Males experiencing puberty have a different type of physical and emotional development than females. Both share changes in their sexual organs, albeit different changes. One of the earliest warning signs for females is the beginning of menstruation.

A study at the University of Arizona shows that girls, whose parents divorce or separate and then live without their biological fathers tend to start their periods earlier. Research at the University of California, Berkeley also linked income levels and backgrounds, due to the father not living with the teenager. Further reports from Psychology Today show that the age of girls when parents divorce is crucial in determining the start of puberty and later on, sexual history.

According to the reports, if a girl is younger than 5 years old when parents divorce, she will experience puberty significantly earlier, and she will later have significantly more unrestricted sociosexual orientation (an individual difference in willingness to engage in sexual activity outside of a committed relationship). As previously stated, the older a sibling is, the less future consequences in a pubescent teenage girl will have in their development.

There also are individual effects that divorce has on teenage boys, as well. There is a reactionary nature in pubescent boys, as they are more likely to react to their parents’ divorce with anger, truancy, aggressive behavior, and academic problems, according to Family Education. They also are at risk for depression, especially if the father is the parent that they are no longer living with.

Economic consequences also might cause a rift between pubescent son and his mother. Because a newly single mother is working all of the time, the connection between the mother and the teenage son is at risk, and because of the consequences of divorce involved in moving to less economically stable area, there are further implications to how the environment affects the future development of the son.

One of the biggest issues that pubescent teenagers face when their parents are going through a divorce is being unable to communicate their emotions in a healthy and safe way. There are so many outside pressures and influences in the world, and the safe haven in a child’s life is supposed to be in the home and in their family. When that haven is torn in two, these pubescent teenagers see uncertainty in the next step in life, but through communication and parental guidance, these future men and women can lead healthy and functional lives.

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