A Toronto divorce lawyer will express to you many do’s and don’ts throughout the divorce process. During the separation, there are number of actions and activities that are legally loaded and can have significant ramifications. While talking to your teen may not result in any legal consequence, the do’s and don’ts of discussion are equally important.

Mental illness often carries a negative stigma, which may inhibit people from seeking treatment. In certain situations, this can be dangerous. Before having any direct conversation with your teen about mental health, ensure you have created a safe and non-judgmental environment. For example, making jokes about depression, suicide or “insanity” is both harmful and highly inappropriate. Take a moment to remember how your Toronto divorce lawyer listened to your concerns and questions without judgment, criticism or disapproval.

The separation process can be long and multifaceted. Many clients have a number of conversations with their Toronto divorce lawyer throughout the various stages of his/her divorce. First, these encounters are necessary to help create a sense of trust and an honest pathway of communication. Second, the dissolution of a marriage is complex. It is impossible to explain all the intricacies of your separation to your Toronto divorce lawyer in a single sitting. Take a similar approach with your teen when talking about mental health issues.

Do not be discouraged that your teen does not open up about his/her entire life the first time you ask. You are the parent and he/she is a teenager after all. Creating a genuine bond of trust and honesty takes patience, understanding and care. While your Toronto divorce lawyer plays the role of legal support, you must, in turn, be your teen’s unwavering pillar of strength and emotional support. Therefore, one does not have “a conversation” about mental health. Rather, allow for discussions about feelings, thoughts, and opinions to become part of your daily vocabulary. Mental health concerns should be an ongoing conversation in every household.

Once an honest pathway of communication has been established, it is your turn to listen. Listening can sometimes mean not talking. It is as simple as that. Your children know his/her feelings best. You do not have to substitute your words for his/hers. Ask open-ended questions,
then listen and observe your teen’s reactions and explanations.

Do not be afraid of silence. It is often our natural inclination to fill that silence with our own ideas of an answer. Fight this instinct. A Toronto divorce lawyer knows that complex issues take time. If your child does not feel like talking today, that is okay. He/she may feel too overwhelmed or confused to articulate what he/she is experiencing, which is normal. Move on to another conversational topic. Remember, this is only one episode in a continuous reel of interaction.

When speaking to teens, specifically about mental health, certain precautions must be taken. Be sure to read the next two articles on more do’s and don’ts of discussion and consult your Toronto divorce lawyer for additional helpful resources.

Talking to Teens about Divorce – Part 1: Special Attention for Adolescents
Talking to Teens about Divorce – Part 3: The Do’s of Discussion
Talking to Teens about Divorce – Part 4: The Don’ts of Discussion