Health & Well-Being

How Divorce Affects Children

From the teen perspective

Divorce has become a prominent factor in modern society; it seems more common than not for kids to grow up in a two-home family. 

Does it, however, do more harm or good for kids to experience growing up in the middle of their parents’ divorce? We spoke to a few teens who experienced the effects of their parent’s divorce at various ages to get their perspective.

The consensus among teens whose parents divorced or separated as children is that they are grateful their parents are no longer together if, at the time, they were unhappy. But they feel they have been affected in both a positive and negative manner. 

Seventeen-year-old Grace M., whose parents divorced when she was 5, says her parents’ separation has been difficult financially. Living with a single mom means having to survive on a single income, which is rarely easy. Mickelson, however, says she’s also thankful for the divorce because she grew closer to her mom when she likely wouldn’t have otherwise. 

Living with a single parent, especially with no other siblings in the house, can form a close bond between a parent and their child, which is very good for establishing trust as teenagers navigate early adulthood. They will always have that positive figure to turn to. 

However, separation in an early teen’s life doesn’t always have the same effect as when children are younger.  Eighteen-year-old Aliya R., whose parents divorced when she was 13, says that witnessing her parents argue consistently has affected how she approaches her own relationships. She finds it harder to trust people’s intentions because of how easily manipulation can happen between people who once loved each other. This situation leads to significant resentment toward her parents for putting her through that unpleasant experience for a long time. She “always rooted” for her parents to divorce, claiming they were never happy together, which created a very toxic living environment. 

The simple truth is whether divorce is positive or negative depends entirely on the family, how it’s approached and how it’s ultimately handled. Divorce is an adult experience, and kids witnessing it will unavoidably make them have to grow up faster, whether for their own sake, their parents, or even their siblings. 

Sixteen-year-old Gideon V. says that growing up without a father from age 2 later forced him into playing the role of a father for himself and his younger siblings. Unfortunately, that can be an all-too-common consequence of parents splitting up early in a child’s life. Issues slip through the cracks, forcing children to deal with it themselves. It can make life incredibly difficult for a child who’s not only dealing with the regular turmoil of growing up but also the deeply rooted problems of their parents that they do not have the maturity to understand because, often, the issues causing their parents’ troubles go back much further than a child at any age could even begin to comprehend. 

Seventeen-year-old Lani H. says the problems that kept her parents apart stemmed from their own upbringings, with her mother experiencing abandonment and her father experiencing abuse — issues that they both brought into the relationship, which caused the marriage to ultimately not work out.

Unfortunately, many times, the problems a couple cannot overcome connect back to their parents. It’s often generational. Whether it’s alcoholism that’s passed down or simply growing up in a one-parent home, the long-term issues of our families seem to stick with us for our entire lives, and it’s common to keep passing them down generation after generation. 

There’s never an easy solution when a couple with children no longer wants to be married to one another. Staying together can cause more harm than good, as can being apart. The simple truth is that divorce, whether positive or negative, relies entirely on the family and how it’s approached and ultimately handled. 

An excellent priority to make for your kids’ sake is communication about what’s going on in the relationship, ensuring your children at any age understand why things are how they are, expressing your continued love, and letting them know you are there for them, and that they can still come to you with any problems, questions, or concerns.

For help with explaining divorce to your children of any age, visit


Cydney Bobo

Cydney Bobo is a student at Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas. She works on the school newspaper and enjoys creative writing and reading in her free time. She is interested in being a journalism major in college.

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