How do I cope when my parents are divorcing?
Divorce impacts everyone. So if your parents are splitting up, you'll need support too.
Katie’s parents have just sat her down at the table and told her the worst thing: they’re getting divorced.
Sadly, many Christian teenagers are going to go through what Katie is experiencing.
If your parents tell you they’re getting divorced, this may come as a shock. Or maybe you’ve been expecting it for a while. Either way, it’s a terrible thing to have to go through.
So here are some tips to help you cope if your parents decide to divorce.
Remember: it’s not your fault
While some parents may cite the stresses of parenthood as a contributing factor in the breakdown of their marriage, you need to remember that ultimately, a divorce is never the fault of the child.
Divorce is part of our broken, sinful world. God allows divorce in certain situations related to serious sin, including abuse, infidelity and abandonment. But whether it’s a divorce God would approve of or not, your parents’ divorce is ultimately about them and their brokenness.
As humans, we are unable to live in perfect relationship with anyone – not with God, and not with each other.
Some couples choose to work through issues with the help of counsellors and with a reliance on God’s grace, but others decide it’s too hard and think the better option is to end their marriage.
This is NOT your fault. It’s a sad side-effect of the brokenness of the world.
Know that your Father in heaven will never fail you
You may be feeling really disappointed and let down if your parents decide to divorce – and no wonder. As kids we admire our parents and think they’ve got it all together. Divorce forces us to see our parents as broken humans just like everyone else, and that can be really disappointing.
But remember: you have a parent who will never fail you – God.
God invites his children to call on him and trust in him, and he promises to never let us down. As Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Even when everything seems to be going wrong, remember that your Heavenly Father will never fail you.
Be open and honest with your parents
At this time, it’s really important that you are open and honest with your parents. Share how you feel, what you want to happen with things like your home and schooling, and don’t withdraw. Engaging with the reality of the situation will help your whole family move forwards more smoothly.
Divorce, no matter why it happens, is heartbreaking for the couple involved. Whether you agree with your parents’ choice to separate or not, they are both probably feeling upset and lonely.
Take time to show love and compassion to your parents. Depending on how old you are, you might like to take each of them out for dinner and express your love and support.
Obviously if the marriage is ending due to infidelity or abuse, it will be hard to have compassion for the parent who has mistreated the other. You need to protect yourself, especially in cases of abuse, but you may also like to start thinking how in the future you might be able to show compassion and grace to your parent.
Connect with your siblings and friends
Right now, the people who can offer you the best support may be your siblings or close friends.
Take time to check in with your brothers and sisters, sharing your feelings and supporting each other.
If you don't have any siblings or aren't close to your brothers or sisters, seek out close friends or your Bible study group and ask them to support you and pray for you.
As you grieve the changes in your family, remember to take everything to God in prayer.
He grieves with you, and he wants to hear from you at this time.
Ask him for help to be gracious, patient and honest – and thank him for never leaving. He loves you and he will care for you no matter what.