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How to help your son who is struggling with anxiety and depression during a divorce, and won’t do his schoolwork.


​​​My son has developed agoraphobia, anxiety and depression over the past couple of years. His father and I divorced recently. He is refusing to do schoolwork and won't continue counseling.​


Boys Town - Divorce

​​Thank you for your email. It can be hard as a parent watching our children struggle. Often, we want to help, but don't know what to do. Counseling is a good option, especially given there are some family changes that have happened. It might help to let your son know he can talk to his therapist about whatever is bothering him. And then let him talk to the therapist alone. Our kids don't always want their parent to know the things that are bothering them. Know that the therapist will notify you of any unsafe behavior or feelings that your son might be having.

It may also help to talk with your son about what he is feeling. Tell him you have noticed he is more anxious and upset lately. Most kids don't like feeling that way. Let your son know counseling can help him find ways to deal with the anxiety, so he feels better. Perhaps offering family therapy might be an option. Sometimes kids want us to be there with them. It truly depends upon your child's needs and wants.

Changes in the family, like divorce, can have an impact on children. Your son might be feeling many things including confusion or depression. It helps for the parent to be open to listening to the child. For example, you might say, “I've noticed you seem sad and upset lately, would you like to talk about it? Does it have anything to do with the divorce? I'd like to listen if you want to talk." It may take some time for your son to get used to the changes in the family. Remind him that both of you love him and want him to be happy. Then cooperate as parents, even though you are not together in a relationship.

I hope things start to improve. You can call us at 1-800-448-1488 to talk with a crisis counselor anytime.