Rebuilding Your Relationship With Your Children After a Divorce

By Shannon Perry
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Juan Monino/iStock
Divorce is difficult for children. Confusion and hurt can often lead to resentment and emotional separation between kids and parents.

Mike and Mary Ann were married for 12 years. They had two daughters: Ashley, 8, and Jenna, 5. The marriage ended in divorce after Mike committed adultery. Although he said he wanted to reconcile, Mary Ann felt she couldn’t trust him.

Three years following the divorce, Mary Ann met and married Brad. While Ashley and Jenna were respectful to Brad, they were angry at Mary Ann for refusing reconciliation with their father. The girls accused their mom of hating them and blamed her for divorcing their dad. Mary Ann, hurt and upset, lashed out at them verbally. A chasm filled with hurt feelings and misunderstood motives developed between mother and daughters.

Divorce is difficult for children, who are usually torn by their desire to love both parents. Confusion and hurt can often lead to resentment and emotional separation between kids and parents. But parents can work at reconciliation with their children and encourage healing in the relationship.

Communication lines must remain open.

Once a week, take your kids to dinner without your new spouse. If they refuse to talk with you, do not force the conversation. You can sit in silence while you eat; that’s acceptable. By doing so, your children will realize that you refuse to give up because your relationship with them is invaluable. During the week, write letters or texts to your children to keep your end of communication open. Your presence and interest in them shows that you are relentless in the pursuit of having a relationship with them. But be genuine. Kids know when parents attempt to resolve a situation for selfish reasons and when they are genuinely interested in what their children are experiencing.

Accept responsibility for your part in the conflict, and ask for forgiveness.

Mary Ann’s reactions to her young daughters’ initial anger played a role in causing the relational rift. Reflect on past interactions with your children, and — with the help of a counselor who can be completely frank with you — talk through how your words and actions might have been perceived. Then admit your mistakes to your kids. When you show humility and respect toward your kids, you pave the way for them to be open and vulnerable with you.

Don’t take your children’s anger or hurtful behavior personally.

Your children may be terrified of losing you as a parent. Fear is often masked by anger. If your child is old enough to refuse counseling, go alone to learn how to constructively deal with the situation. Let the positive changes in the relationship begin with you.

Assure your children that God cares for them even more than you do.

Divorce and remarriage can cause children to feel lost. As they ponder why God allowed their circumstances, many children begin to wonder if God really cares about them. Listen to their questions and concerns, but assure them of God’s compassion and presence in every situation.

Hold your children accountable, and model acceptable behavior.

Do not allow disrespect for your position as a parent. Let your children know that their feelings are important and you are fully present and willing to listen to their feelings and thoughts about the divorce. Respond without personalizing or internalizing what is said. If a boundary is crossed, stop the conversation for a period of time and tell your child you are taking a timeout so later you can listen with more clarity.

Shannon Perry is a conference speaker, TV show host and national recording artist. She has written three books, including Stand: Staying balanced with answers for real teen life.

© 2017 by Shannon Perry. Used by permission.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Shannon Perry

Shannon Perry is a conference speaker, TV show host and national recording artist. She has written three books, including Stand: Staying balanced with answers for real teen life.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.