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Separation / Divorce


Divorce is painful for everyone. It is painful for the parents, children, friends and the whole family. There is interpersonal loss, social dislocation, lifestyle adjustment and emotional issues to deal with.

Children react differently to divorce, depending on their age. Younger children usually are still very dependent on their parents and tend to be more prone to grief at the loss of the family unity. They may be sad, clingy and lose confidence.

However, teens tend to pull away and rebel. They often feel betrayed, angry and don’t want to talk about It.. It is common for teens to think that their parents’ divorce is their fault. Teenagers need to know that parents’ decisions to divorce are issues between the parents and has nothing to do with them.

For the adolescent who is more close to their friends, divorce tends to energize more independence from family.

How divorce can affect teens:

  • Teens may have to be flexible with their time as they could end up living with one parent and visiting the other.

  • Logistic and practical arrangement. Teen may have to travel between parents, and that can create challenges both socially and practically. Teens need time to adapt to these changes.

  • Money and expenses. Parents may be struggling with changes of financial matters.

  • Research shows that teens from divorced families can be more aggressive, more anxious, have higher school drop out rates, have higher rates of delinquency and have higher rates of drug and alcohol addiction.

  • During divorce, parents can become very distracted and pay less attention to their children. Teens may become very insecure, feeling isolated or anxious.

  • Teens may be forced to ‘grow up’ faster and quicker. Parents sometimes will use them as confidants or they may be required to take up adult’s responsibilities

  • There can be good changes too — but how the teen copes with stressful changes depends on their situation, personality, and support they get


How to cope with parental divorce

  • Teens find it easier to deal with divorce when parents get along. It is more difficult when their parents fight and argue with each other. Always ask and remind your parents to do their best to avoid arguing with each other. Try not to get caught in between them.

  • Be fair to both parents and try not to take sides. You need to feel free to talk to each of your parents without the other parent acting jealous or angry.

  • Get professional help from counselor if you feel you can’t cope with the divorce. Inform your parents.

  • Keep in touch with both your parents. Call or text them frequently.

  • Tell your parents about your concerns and how the divorce is affecting you. Choose a right time to do it.


  1. http://kidshealth.org/teen

  2. http://understandingteenagers.com.au

  3. http://www.psychologytoday.com

Last Reviewed : 25 November 2014
Writer : Dr. Norharlina bte. Bahar
Accreditor : Dr. Hargeet Kaur A/P Basant Singh