Letter to a Child of Divorce

Hey, kid. Let’s chat.

I heard Mom and Dad just sat you down and gave you the news. News that you either expected (and possibly were relieved to hear), or news that came completely out of left field.

Or maybe your parents’ divorce was umpteen years ago, yet you still live among the wreckage left in its wake.

You are now or were then just a child, and in a perfect world, children shouldn’t be forced to deal with grown-up issues like divorce.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. And these days, the sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be.

Things might be kind of rough right now, but I’m here to give you a little encouragement.

No matter what your parents’ circumstances; whether they are separated, divorcing, long-divorce or never married in the first place, none of this is by accident.

Nothing about what is happening right now is a surprise to God.

Your life was planned by Him with a purpose. You were meant to fulfill a God-given goal, placed in your heart before time began.

You have a destiny. There’s a reason you exist.

So if you’re a child of divorce, let me give you some advice:

  1. It’s totally normal and necessary to grieve, and the sooner you do it, the better. Divorce is a heavy burden to bear. It’s a death, of sorts, the way it changes your family, and although you might hope for reconciliation, I hate to tell you that the likelihood of that is slim to none if we’re following statistics.
  2. By all means, grieve what you lost. It’s even okay to grieve what never was, like the good, happy parents you wanted, as opposed to the bickering parents you got. But you’ve probably heard the verse: “Tears last through the night but joy comes in the morning.” Another way to put this is that it’s okay to grieve, but to help yourself, you gotta get up, dry your eyes, and face another day.
  3. You can be angry about the situation, no matter who tells you it’s a bad/wrong emotion. One of the worst mistakes we make is to bottle up our emotions instead of calling out what is wrong. When we shove a cork in our feeling, we only make the spewing that will eventually come, ten times worse. So get angry, but don’t stop forgiving your parents for being human because one day you’ll be the adult who understands just how hard this whole grown-up thing really is.
  4. You are allowed to set boundaries, whether someone tells you this or not. There’s a chance your parents will want to jump back into the dating game, maybe not long after the divorce (maybe even while they’re in the middle of it). They might expect you to be all happy go lucky about it. And while of course we want our parents to be happy, it’s okay to be confused about this new person. You’re still healing wounds, so set limits and boundaries around your feelings and space. You can do this without being disrespectful to the adults in your life. (Unless you’re put into a dangerous situation. Then, by all means, be disrespectful.*)You may not understand it now, but your parents are only trying to find their mojo again. And also, they might not understand your feelings, either–especially if they’ve never been a child of divorce. We all have a right to move on, but we all move on at different pace.
  5. Lean into your Creator and allow Him to cover your wounds. You may not have a soul around you who understands your pain. Among my friends, I was pretty much the only one whose parents were divorced. That can be tough. You feel different. You wonder if your parents simply didn’t love you enough to stay together. It’s possible they loved you enough to realize they couldn’t stay together– that the damage done together was more toxic than what would come from living apart. Or, it’s possible that one day they may come to believe this divorce wasn’t the best decision, after all (don’t count on that one). Maybe they’ll admit it. Maybe they won’t. Either way, you need someone to turn to. Turn to God.

Let your parents do their thing. No matter how difficult, you keep doing you.

You keep walking with GRIT because if you think stumbling will somehow make them change their minds, you’re wrong. You’ll be the only one left limping.

But you won’t be broken.

You see, this girl knows a thing or two about all this. My parents’ divorce changed me for the worst. But it happened because I believed a lie. I bought into the false belief that because my parents’ marriage failed, I was a failure.

I bought into a huge lie, spoken through, over and around me that my family was broken.

This was a lie that was even spoken to me by the Church, the very people who should have been tending to my wounds like good shepherds would.

But there is NOTHING in the Bible to back this up. There are no words from Jesus that speak this horrific message into your ear.

On the contrary, over and over again, God promises to make beauty from ashes, to repair with His Mighty Hands all the pieces of our lives, Supernaturally Redeeming us.

God will restore what is “broken” and make it something new.

So, dear gift, please read this letter, follow my advice, and especially remember this:

Don’t walk right into your parents’ mistakes. Be alert. Choose the better path.

Stay true to who you are…

And keep walking.

See you soon,


*From phillyvoice.com:

In their article “Child Abuse and Other Risks of Not Living with both Parents,” published in Ethology and Sociobiology, Martin Daly and Margo Wilson note: “If their parents find new partners, children are 40 times more likely than those who live with biological parents to be sexually or physically abused.” According to a Missouri-based study of children living in homes with unrelated adults, children are “nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents.” These are worrying statistics, both disturbing and scary.

Please seek help if you are being abused. As stated in my disclaimer, I am not a licensed therapist or medical professional.

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