Tweens and the Effects of Divorce on Their Lives


Sad Tween

Defining the age group considered to be tweens depends upon the community you live in and the way your public school handles 5th and 6th grade children. Keep in mind that many children will regress emotionally and intellectually.

To be a child on the threshold of adolescence is the worst time to have divorcing parents. Some teens when being told parents are divorcing will act nonchalant and continue as if nothing has happened. For these kids the denial may last for several years.

Effects of Divorce on Tweens

  • Many have an overwhelming urge to run away when told about the divorce
  • The normal teen drive to separate from parents becomes even more confusing for the child of divorce
  • Falls headlong into risk taking
  • Acts impulsively at a time when parents aren’t able to provide stable parenting
  • Desperately needs a family to hold onto
  • Still completing their childhood and needs time to develop sense of self but divorce rushes this process
  • Begins to seriously listen to peer voices and older teens because sees parent as preoccupied with divorce issues
  • Many slip into early delinquency
  • May escape through drugs, alcohol and or early sexual experimentation
  • Extremely upset with parents for interrupting their life
  • Openly defies one or both parents

Tips for parents

  • Stay as calm as possible
  • Provide a safe and stable home life
  • Set boundaries and enforce rules
  • Be aware some tweens are terrified of coming home to an empty house each day
  • Make arrangements for someone to check in on tween after school
  • Do not use as a substitute parent for young children
  • Encourage your child by making him or her aware they matter
  • Answer truthfully on their developmental level about the reason for divorce
  • Be a parent – not a buddy
  • Talk openly about their changing bodies, hormones and sexual urges
  • Reassure them often they did not cause the divorce
  • Provide ample opportunities to talk and connect with your tween

Tips for church workers accommodating tweens

  • Offer to talk openly with the tween
  • Provide mentors of the same sex to minister to the tween
  • Assure the tween you are not taking sides
  • Let them know what they share is confidential
  • Offer to find someone to help them with their school work if grades are failing
  • Text them uplifting and encouraging messages
  • Provide scriptures that specifically applies to their situation
  • Tell them often divorce is an adult problem – not their fault
  • If one of the parents is involved in risky behaviors, work diligently with the tween to forgive that parent
  • If the tween is leaning toward becoming involved in a sexual relationship, provide honest and frank discussion about all the dangers involved
  • Be prepared to talk about the danger of drug and alcohol use
  • Watch for suicidal tendencies
  • Have competent Christian mental health people you can recommend
  • If at all possible provide a divorce group support recovery program specifically for this age group

Tweens desperately need strong mature Christian adults they can feel safe being around and can trust. Because this age can be defiant toward their parents, keep in mind they are still children trying to navigate the adult world. They need you and other adults in the church family.

You can provide a bridge between the child and the single parent by keeping lines of communication open.  Provide activities that give them freedom within the context of a church activity. Find strong two-parent families that will be willing to stand in the gap during the divorce crisis and until the single parent can find some stability in the new one parent family.

What has been your experience with tweens and divorcing parents?


Get free email ministry tips. Subscribe to the DC4K blog here

9 thoughts on “Tweens and the Effects of Divorce on Their Lives

  1. Very helpful point by point awareness and advice. I’m so thankful God placed you and DC4K in this world at this time to minister to this precious group of children and young adults, their parents and those who work with them on a day to day basis. May He bless your many efforts.

    • Thanks Mary. It is indeed a special ministry and I’m so appreciative of those you who respond and join us.

  2. Wow, you are dead on with this information. I lived this out with both of my children. It was a nightmare.

    I had lots of support by close friends and family, but still needed much more. Especially from the church. We kind of fell through the cracks because we didn’t fit into the normal life of the youth programs etc. I’m not blaming anyone, but do want to strongly encourage leaders/staff to do as many of the suggestions that Linda’s shared as possible. It will make a HUGE difference. It would have in our case. Linda……. where were you when we needed you?????


    • Mica, well I’m here now!:) I pray this information will make a difference for many tweens. Keep passing it forward.

    • Thank you Rickie. I pray several youth pastors will glean some perspective about the many tweens of divorce they face each week.

  3. Pingback: DC4K » A middle school teacher asks a tough question about tweens and divorce

Leave a Reply