The impact of divorce on teenagers

Do you ever feel a bit blah? Does your life look pretty good, but you don’t have the energy for it? If so, you’re not alone, and this is the podcast episode for you. As well as this lack of motivation experienced by a lot of midlifers, this episode also covers the impact of divorce on teenagers, and the coping strategies kids often develop to cope with their feelings.

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Parenting author Tanith Carey writes a lot about the teenage brain. She had a tough time when her parents divorced, but it was midlife when she noticed that despite having a happy life on paper, she wasn’t really feeling it. She researched this feeling that wasn’t depression, but wasn’t happiness either, and discovered a little used word for it – ANHEDONIA.

Feeling Blah? Why anhedonia has left you joyless, and how to recapture life’s highs* is an exploration of what causes the lacklustre feeling so many of us go through at times. She explains the science behind it, and – better still – tells us what to do to move beyond it and feel excited for life again. *Affiliate link

She also talks me through her parents’ divorce, and the toxic atmosphere she lived in before they separated. We discuss the impact that had on her emotional development, and how she developed coping strategies that affected how she would feel about life decades later. If you’ve ever found yourself overthinking your feelings, this is the conversation for you.

The impact of divorce on teenagers

There’s some evidence to say that the older a child is when their parents divorce, the better equipped they will be to cope emotionally. This is because they have gone some way through puberty and will be more able to rationalise the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. However, divorce often follows a prolonged period of toxic patterns in a couple’s relationship, and it’s this that can impact the child harder. Tanith explains how it felt for her in the podcast episode. As well as immersing herself in her school work and avoiding her feelings, here are some other coping strategies teenagers might use to cope with their parents’ divorce:

  • Disengaging from school – you might see a drop in grades, detentions or truancy
  • Dropping out of their usual social pursuits and hobbies
  • Increasing or decreasing the amount of time they spend with friends
  • Engaging in risky behaviours like drug use and underage sex
  • Anger and aggressive behaviour as they try to ‘defend’ themselves against stress

Tanith explains how disengaging from her feelings affected her throughout her adult life, until she started researching her flat feelings and realised there was a word for it – anhedonia. As she researched and wrote, she experimented with ways to start feeling better. In the podcast she explains what she did to correct the blah and learn to love her life again. Listen to the podcast to find out more – it’s really quite straightforward!

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Who is Tanith Carey?

Tanith Carey is an author who writes books which use the latest research to offer a lucid analysis of the most pressing challenges for today’s parents.

Her eleven books have been translated into 25 languages.

She has written on the impact of competitive parenting on children and parents, plus friendship issues, and is one of the UK media’s leading commentators on girls’ well-being.

As an award-winning journalist, Tanith also writes on psychology, social trends, childhood, adolescence and family relationships for a wide range of newspapers and magazines around the world including The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and Daily Mail.

Follow Tanith on Twitter and Instagram.

Listen to the podcast

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Subscribe to the Teenage Kicks podcast

Thank you so much for listening! I really appreciate every listener, and would love you to subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to explore previous episodes that might be of interest to you or a friend – including losing a parent, being hospitalised with mental health problems, and battling an eating disorder.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for future topics on the Teenage Kicks podcast. Contact me here, or you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @iamhelenwills. I appreciate every message, and love to hear from my listeners.

For information on your data privacy please visit Zencastr. Please note that I am not a medical expert, and nothing in this blog or in the podcast should be taken as medical advice. If you’re worried about a young person please seek support from a medical professional.

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