How To Explain Divorce to a Child?

January 09, 2024

Also Available on:

Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Google Podcasts
Amazon Music

How do we explain divorce to our children from a biblical perspective? Join host Elizabeth Urbanowicz as she tackles this tough topic and provides practical guidance for parents navigating divorce or separation. Discover biblical principles for understanding marriage and divorce, and learn how to have ongoing conversations with your children to help them process their emotions in a healthy way. Don't miss this important episode that will equip you to guide your children through the challenges of divorce while keeping their hearts grounded in God's truth.


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question says, "I have been in an abusive marriage for over 10 years. My husband recently filed for divorce, and we are currently living separately. We have three kids, ages eight, six, and two. My older children mentioned that they have friends at school whose parents live in separate homes. I don't want them to normalize separation and divorce. How do I explain divorce and what is going on in our family from a biblical perspective without shaming our family and other families who are divorced or going through a divorce?"

This is a really important question for us to think through. And just for the woman who wrote this in, just want to say that I'm so sorry that you're walking through this situation that is just so hard and so painful, and as you're trying to faithfully navigate this situation with your children, I know that that's extremely challenging. So just want to encourage you to let you know that I'm praying for you and just to encourage you to reach out to others within your local church so that they can pray for you and support you in this situation. And this is an important situation for us to think through, whether we ourselves are going through a divorce or whether we're in a happy, healthy, stable marriage because our children are going to encounter others who come from homes where parents are divorced or separated. So it's really important to think through how do we explain the concept of divorce to our children from a biblical perspective.

Before we dive down into answering this question today, would just ask that if you have found the content of this podcast beneficial that you be sure to like and subscribe so that you don't miss any future episodes. Also, ask that you would invest time writing a review or if you're watching on YouTube to leave a comment. All of these things just help more people discover this content so that we can reach our goal of equipping as many children as possible to understand the truth of the biblical worldview. Also, if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit that question by going to

Now, as we think through this question, I think that there are two different things that we need to focus on. The first thing is how do we give our children a biblically grounded understanding of marriage and divorce? And then the second thing, for those particularly who are going through a situation of divorce or separation, how can we have an ongoing conversation with our children to make sure that we're helping them process this tremendous loss in a healthy way? And so that's what we're going to look at today.

So first, thinking through understanding a biblical view of marriage and divorce. I think that there are several biblical principles that we need to cover with our children. And actually I have been doing a great deal of thinking and learning recently about biblical principles regarding marriage and divorce because as we record this podcast, I am currently in the research and writing phase for our next upcoming curriculum, which will be for children ages four plus, which we're going to be calling God's Good Design. And so this is going to be a curriculum focused on God's good design for gender and for sexuality and for marriage and for family. And so in this curriculum we go through a number of biblical principles to talk about marriage and then to talk about marriage on this fallen earth.

And so I think a few important principles that I've just been wrestling through as I've been writing this curriculum and making sure that we're communicating to children in this curriculum, a few of these principles. The first one is that God created marriage, and marriage is good. We want to make sure that our children understand that God created marriage, that it's part of his good design and that it is good. That God designed marriage for several specific purposes, that God designed marriage to bring children into this world, that he created a union of a husband and a wife to be able to create children. That we as individuals, our bodies, all of our body systems on their own can function like my respiratory system, my circulatory system, all of these systems in my body, they don't need any help from another human being. Now, maybe they need help from a doctor. However, these systems as they're working on their own are sufficient with the way that God has created them.

However, our reproductive system, we as humans only have one half of a reproductive system that we need another half in order for that system to fulfill its purpose. And God has designed marriage to be the relationship in which a man and a woman become one flesh and bring children into this world. And so we want our children to understand that. And that God has given us the family unit in order to create stable societies that in societies where husbands love their wives and wives love their husbands, and then together they love and raise their children, that these are the societies that are most stable, the societies that create citizens who are good, hardworking citizens, who create more families.

And so God has given us marriage in order to bring children into the world, in order to create stable societies, and also to show a picture of Christ and the church. In Ephesians 5, Paul makes this clear that marriage is a picture of Christ laying down his life for the church and the church lovingly submitted to Christ. And so we want our children to understand that this is God's design. God designed marriage as a good gift to bring children into the world, to create stable societies and to show a picture of Christ and the church. We want our children to understand marriage is a good gift. But then obviously we want them to be able to understand, "okay, what is going on? Why is it that we're not seeing this good gift played out in our own family in the way that we see God designed it in Scripture?"

And so then the next biblical principle that we need to teach our children is because of sin, marriages do not always accomplish these purposes. Because of sin, marriages don't always lead to bringing children in the world. They don't always lead to creating stable societies. They don't always paint an accurate picture of Christ and the church. And so to talk about some of these effects of sin, they're brought by us, by our own sin that husbands don't love their wives perfectly as Christ loved the church that wives don't respect and submit to their husbands perfectly as the church should respect and submit to Christ. And then sometimes because of just sin in the world, because our world is a fallen world sometimes when a husband and wife come together, their bodies actually don't reproduce children, and that for certain couples is a really sad thing. So because of sin, marriages don't always accomplish these purposes.

Now, one thing to be very clear, especially if this is a situation where you and your spouse are walking through a divorce or have already gotten a divorce, our children need to know that it is not their sin that has caused this. It's not their sin. Now, we need to be careful not to get into the nitty gritty details of why we are divorced or why our spouse is divorcing us. But we need to make sure that our children know that they did not do anything to cause this divorce, that this divorce is taking place because we live in a fallen broken world and mommy and daddy are sinful, and mommy and daddy have not always lived the way that God has commanded them to live. And we need to make sure our children know that it's not their fault.

We want them also to know that because God's original design was not for us to be fallen, was not for us to rebel against him, was not for us to live in a fallen world where all creation is groaning and waiting for Jesus to return that it's normal and it's good for us to feel sad and hurt and even angry because of divorce because this is not God's original design. And so when we feel these feelings of sadness and hurt and anger, these things should point us towards the fact that God has a good design. But because of sin, we do not always live out that good design.

So first biblical principle, we want our children to know God created marriage and it is good. Next because of sin, marriages do not always accomplish these good purposes. And then the third biblical principle that we want to make sure our children understand is that Jesus defeated sin, that our sinfulness is not the end of the story. Jesus defeated sin, and one day all the wrongs that have ever been done will be righted when Jesus returns and ushers in the new heaven and the new earth. So we want our kids to know that yes, right now going through this divorce is really hard and it's really painful and we're going to feel sad and we're going to feel hurt and we're going to feel angry and it's not going to go away. Those feelings are not going to go away anytime soon. But those feelings are not the end of the story that one day Jesus is going to return and he's going to right all of the wrongs and he's going to usher in the new heaven and the new Earth and everything will be made right.

And this is where we can tie back into that first biblical principle about God creating marriage and it being good. And then that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church that our children know that marriage is this picture that points to the true reality. And we want them to know that even when we experience the sadness of divorce, it can be a good thing because it can point us to the true reality that we may not be experiencing the goodness of the picture, but we are promised that we can experience the goodness of the true reality.

I saw this in my own life recently with a friend who was just reminding me of the truth. That a while ago I was in a dating relationship and it ended and it didn't end well, and I was just really hurt by the way that the man I was dating had treated me, even though he spoke with a lot of words that honored the Lord, he did not really live those things out in our time when we were dating. And I was really hurt by this, and I was sharing this with a friend and she looked at me and she said, "Elizabeth, remember marriage, what you were hoping that this relationship would lead to is just a shadow. It's a shadow that points to Christ and the church. And right now you were really disappointed in this situation. You were really hurt. And you know what? You may never get married. You may never experience this shadow, but you know what? You are guaranteed. You are guaranteed that you get to experience the reality that Jesus is coming back one day and he is going to right all wrongs. And you get to participate in that reality."

And that's in this situation with divorce is what we want to help our children see that this life is a precursor to the next. And in this life, they may never get to experience the goodness of that shadow that God has given us while we're here. But what they can be guaranteed is that they can experience the goodness of the reality of the marriage supper of the lamb when Jesus comes back and he writes all wrongs and he ushers in the new heaven and the new Earth. And we live forever in the new heaven and the new Earth as the bride of Christ.

And that's what we want to help our children understand, and we can point them to Romans chapter 8, verses 28 and 29. And I think these verses are so important because verse 28 says that, "and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." And then verse 29 explains how that happens. That God uses all things to conform us more into the image of His Son. And so as we're going through this pain and this sadness and this hurt of divorce, it does not feel good in the moment. And no, it is not part of God's original good design, but we can trust that even this pain and this sadness and this hurt of divorce that God is using for our good because he's ultimately using it to make us more like Jesus.

That's the first part, biblical principles that we need to cover with our children so that they have a biblical understanding of marriage and divorce. And then the second part, for those who are watching or listening who are experiencing divorce or have experienced divorce, it's really important that we keep an ongoing conversation with our children to understand how they're processing the situation. I think it can be really great to bring in the pastors or elders at your church to have counseling sessions with you and your children just to go through how are you processing this if that's not something that the elders at your church offer to find a good biblical counselor who you can meet with, who you can let your children meet with just to uncover some of the things that they're thinking and they're feeling in this process.

But also don't underestimate just what you can do as a parent as you're talking with your children, you can ask them intentional questions even every few weeks. How are you feeling about us being separated from daddy? How are you feeling about that right now? You can ask them, what questions do you have for me? Now, we need to be really careful when we are answering questions for our children. We don't want to lie to them. We don't want to tell them something that's untrue, but we want to be careful that we're not speaking about our former spouse in a way that's really degrading.

Now, there might be a really painful situation. Maybe your spouse left you for another woman, and in that situation, you don't want to get into the nitty gritty details, but depending on the age of your children, you can be honest. Daddy decided that he doesn't want to be married to me anymore, that he wants to be married to someone else. And so that's why Daddy is not here anymore. We can be honest with our kids, but we have to be really careful that we're speaking about our former spouse in a way that's not degrading them, that's not going to create bitterness and resentment in the heart of our children. And even for legal reasons, especially in the United States, that that's really important because our culture views our inner emotional world as the primary source of truth and primary guide to reality. There have been a lot of situations in court where parents have lost custody of their children simply because they've told their children true things about their ex-spouse and the other spouses claim that it's caused emotional harm to the child. So we need to be careful both from a perspective of honoring the Lord, but also from a legal perspective, making sure that we're not saying something that could one day have our children taken away from us.

Other questions that we can ask them is, "how can I help you remember that you are loved?" Because it's really easy for children in the midst of divorce to feel like they are not loved, especially if a spouse has left. And so just what can I do to help remind you that you are loved? And even if they don't know how to answer that question, that's something we need to pay attention to. How can we make sure that they know that they are loved? There's certain wounding from divorce that it's just going to be there and certain things that they're going to have to work through their whole lives, these wounds that have been inflicted upon them. But we want to see what can we do to minimize the effects of that wounding?

Then we can, especially with older children, we can ask, is there anything that we're doing in our home right now that you wish would change? And obviously we have to have discernment there. We can't just cater to every whim of our child because some of the things that they want are just felt needs. They're not actual needs and they're not actually what's best for them. But it's helpful even if we can just ask them to understand what they're thinking and what they're feeling, and we should make sure that we are welcoming their questions and their sharing of their feelings. And so I don't know emotionally how difficult this is as your single parenting because I haven't walked through this situation, but I can imagine that it's very difficult as you're trying to process your own grief and your own hurt walking through this painful situation. But we want to make sure that our children know that their questions and their thoughts and their feelings are welcomed because we want to understand truly and genuinely what's going on in their heart and their mind so that we can help them.

Another thing I would really encourage you to do is to be intentional at building relationships and your local church where your children will get to see a biblical marriage modeled for them, that even if they're not having the opportunity to see a biblical marriage modeled for them in your home, that you're creating relationships, strong relationships with others within the body of Christ so that they can see what should a biblical marriage look like so that they have that model before them, even if they're not seeing it on a daily basis.

I know that this is a very sensitive topic, and it's a very difficult one to talk through, but it's a really important one to talk through with our children to make sure that they have a biblical understanding of both marriage and divorce, and especially if divorce is occurring or has occurred in our family, we want to make sure that we're keeping the conversation open so that we know how our children are processing this.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode, but as always, my prayer for you is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.

Share this article

Related Posts and insights

Protecting Innocence while Preparing for the World

In this episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast, host Elizabeth Urbanowicz discusses how to approach sensitive topics such as gender and same-sex relationships with children, particularly in a homeschooling context. She emphasizes that protecting children does not mean completely isolating them from the world, but rather preparing them to confront and understand deviations from their beliefs.

Balancing Protection & Freedom: Navigating Smartphone Use for Preteens

Join Elizabeth Urbanowicz on the Foundation Worldview Podcast as she addresses a pressing concern for today's parents: How to strike a balance between safeguarding preteens from digital pitfalls, like explicit content, while still allowing them the freedom to connect with peers. Dive into biblically-informed and reality-based approaches to guide and protect the young minds entrusted to our care in a digital age.

Raising Children from a Place of Fear

In this episode, Elizabeth Urbanowicz addresses the question about raising children from a place of fear. What is healthy vs unhealthy fear? Listen in for insight and encouragement as you disciple the children God has placed in your care.