Children of Divorce and Overcoming Anger at God

anger at godAnger is a common emotion in children of divorce – anger at their parents, anger at siblings, anger at circumstance, anger at themselves, anger ant the world, and anger at God.

We saw this over and over again in the survey we are currently conducting of adult children of divorce (names have been changed to protect confidentiality, the numbers following the name represent age at the time of divorce and age at time of survey).

Chloe echoed a very common view of God amongst children of divorce:

“It was hard for me to reconcile the loving, caring God they talked about in Sunday School with a God who would let my family fall apart at the seams at 11 years old.” (Chloe, 11, 24)

Katelyn explains how her conviction that God had allowed her family to dissolve led to her anger towards Him:

“While now I understand it was ‘all part of God’s plan,’ when you are five that sounds like complete crap. It also made me flat out hate God for a good portion of my childhood. If God’s plan was for my parents to split up, that is not a God I want to love and serve.” (Jessica, 5, 22)

Jessica expressed how that same disappointment and anger directed towards God impacted her relationship with Him:

“While now I understand it was ‘all part of God’s plan,’ when you are five that sounds like complete crap. It also made me flat out hate God for a good portion of my childhood. If God’s plan was for my parents to split up, that is not a God I want to love and serve.” (Jessica, 5, 22)

Some children, are generally angry at God. Others are angry about what they view as God not being there for them. Natalie told us where her anger stemmed from:

“I was angry at God for a long time for not answering my prayers.” (Natalie, 13, 48)

Sydney came through the divorce of her parents relatively unscathed from a spiritual standpoint. The same can not be said for her brother. She explained the lasting effect of her brother’s anger towards God.

“My brother…was angry with God and has since come to the conclusion that God does not exist.” (Sydney, 1 or 2, 35)

The Problem with Anger Towards God

When we allow an anger towards God to fester and grow, then eventually resentment sets in. When this happen, we tend to walk away from spiritual things and the things and people of God. In so doing, we lose access to the very thing, a relationship with God, that can help us to overcome that anger in the first place. It becomes a vicious self-fulfilling cycle. That is why it is so important that we help these children of divorce to acknowledge and deal with the anger they feel towards God.

What can we do to help?

So, what can we do to help these kids who might be angry with God? There are a few things you can try:

  1. The first step, as with any emotion, is to get the child of divorce talking about the anger they feel, and specifically any anger they feel towards God.
  2. It is important to explain God’s sovereignty to these kids. God is control, but just because what He allows to happen doesn’t make sense to us doesn’t mean that there is not come greater purpose He has in mind.
  3. Encourage children to understand that God does not like divorce. He is even more unhappy about your parents’ divorce than you are. Do not mistake God’s allowing something to happen as endorsing it.
  4. Remind kids that God always has our best interest at heart even when things do not make sense to us.
  5. Encourage children to pray about their anger to God.
  6. Get them involved in helping others.
For more resources and information on divorce, family disruption and modern families please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.

This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on Divorce Ministry 4 Kids on February 20, 2013.

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Written by Wayne Stocks
Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents' relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families.Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids' other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son's soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship).You can reach Wayne at wayne@hope4hurtingkids.com.