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How to Help Students Dealing with Their Parent’s Divorce – Part One

How to Help Students Dealing with Divorce – Part One

From the beginning, God created man to be in relationship with Him and each other. God ordained marriage to be a covenantal, life-long relationship between one man and one woman until death. God has a perfect design for marriage! 

If you simply read through the first three chapters of Genesis, you are confronted with the destructive impact sin has on interpersonal relationships. At the very moment that Adam and Eve made the conscious choice to eat the forbidden fruit, their relationship with the Lord and each other was radically changed. Covered in shame and guilt, they clothed themselves in fig leaves and stole away amongst the trees of the garden to hide from God’s presence and each other. It didn’t take long for the honeymoon to be over! 

The sad reality is that the selfish sin that divided Adam and Eve is alive and thriving. The commitment to faithful, life-long, covenantal marriages is on the verge of extinction. Divorce is no longer seen as scandalous or unusual, but rather, it is widely accepted as normal. Couples who once vowed life-long fidelity are quick to separate when they conclude that their personal needs are no longer being met. They outgrow the relationship, or someone more interesting catches their eye. 

Sadly, children are often caught in the crossfire of their parents’ divorce. The goal of this blog is to shed light on some of the struggles that students in your church ministries may be dealing with. I will offer ideas for how to offer biblical hope and help to them in a follow-up post.  

Take a few minutes to Google the “2024 NOTO earthquake.” There, you’ll find video footage and pictures of the 7.6-magnitude quake that rocked Japan on Jan. 1, 2024. Now, imagine how devastating it would be to experience it firsthand, as everything you own is uprooted and destroyed down to its foundation. In a very real way, this is what it feels like for children who experience divorce. Their lives are completely shattered and destroyed. The only world they knew has crumbled, oftentimes with little or no warning, like the NOTO earthquake. 

Depending on your level of involvement and familiarity with the students, you may not be aware of divorce until you are dealing with abrupt changes in the student’s attitudes or behaviors at your ministry. It’s essential that you give the student the opportunity to share their struggle and then respond with loving compassion and care.  

It’s important to note that not all students will process the impact of their parent’s divorce in the same way. If a student is showing more signs of struggling than another student over the same life event, remember that every kid is unique and will need care and support that is tailored to their individual need. Even the most mature adult in the world would be greatly impacted by divorce – both emotionally and spiritually. 

I once heard a song that aptly described a divorce as a “death without a funeral.” The death of a loved one causes unfathomable grief because it was never God’s will for man at creation. The death of a marriage and the severing of family relationships are not part of God’s will either.  

Here are some experiences students may have when confronted with the divorce of their parents:   

  • Sudden and prolonged times of uncontrolled crying. 
  • A desire for self-harm. 
  • Deep sadness and/or bouts of depression. 
  • Denial of the reality of the divorce. 
  • Fear about their future. 
  • Relational insecurities. 
  • Unwillingness to trust others. 
  • Feelings of being rejected. 
  • Blaming themselves for the divorce. 
  • Worries about their future. 
  • Guilt and shame. 
  • Hopelessness.   
  • Isolation/withdrawal. 
  • Acts of violence/aggression. 
  • Suicidal ideation.   
  • Seeking to self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol.  

Make no mistake — this is a daunting list to read. It was difficult to write. Just imagine being the young person feeling or experiencing these things – believing the lie that they must do it alone!   

The truth is that the Lord has placed you in the lives of students for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)! Just as God orchestrated Esther’s presence in the palace in Babylon to rescue the people from harm, He has ordained your involvement in that student’s life to bring wise counsel (Romans 15:14) and be an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands for His glory!  

In my next post, I will share some practical, biblically centered ways with which to minister to students dealing with the effects of divorce in the family.  


“Children and Divorce: Helping When Life Interrupts,” by Amy Baker

“Children and Trauma: Equipping Parents and Caregivers,” by Justin S. Holcomb & Lindsey A. Holcomb

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1 thought on “How to Help Students Dealing with Divorce – Part One”

  1. I’ve been praying for something like this! I’ve had a lot of kiddos come to me with difficult questions from difficult home lives and had trouble relating to their struggles. Amen!

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