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Publication #FAR4000

The Impact of Divorce on Teens1

Diana Converse and Suzanna Smith2

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With more than one million divorces in the U.S. annually, many teens are experiencing dramatic changes in their lives.

University of Florida researchers say that some teenaged children react to their parents' divorce in unhealthy ways. They may act out or rebel, feel angry or hurt, refuse to accept the divorce, and might become highly critical of others.

Dr. Millie Ferrer with University of Florida IFAS Extension recommends telling your teen about the divorce as soon as the decision is made. Let them know what changes may be occuring in the future, such as moving to a new house or school. Although changes will most likely happen, UF experts recommend that you try to follow your normal family routines as much as possible to help your teen cope.

If possible, both parents should participate in this conversation, so sit down ahead of time and discuss what you are going to calmly tell your teen. Do not go into the details of your marital problems, but have a brief explanation ready for them when they ask. Encourage your teen to ask questions about the divorce and share their feelings with you.

Most importantly, tell your teen that they are in no way responsible for the divorce and should not blame themselves. Honest and open communication will help your family cope with changes in the family structure.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

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This document is FAR4000, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 42. Original publication date December 2007. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Diana Converse, Extension agent III, Hillsborough County, and Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida, and Executive Producer, Family Album Radio, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.