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After the divorce: Why Mentorships Help Build Stronger Kids

Divorce is hard on the whole family, and kids often get stuck in the middle. Wouldn’t you like your child to have the “cheat code” to success for the rest of their life?

Today’s kids are growing up connected more to their devices than to each other, creating an unprecedented change in children leaving them vulnerable to isolation, with an extra helping of helplessness. For listeners of the Modern Divorce Podcast, it may be a child suffering the emotional issues of a newly split family. But that can change, with real relationships that develop emotional intelligence and self confidence.

The Challenge of Building Real Relationships in a Digital World

Divorce, COVID, and our online world is taking its toll on kids. This shift has led to a decrease in empathy and an increase in self-absorption among young people, contributing to a loneliness epidemic among teens.

How do newly single parents help their kids survive this change? Community and practice are essential in counteracting these trends. Teens, particularly those experiencing significant life changes such as a divorce in the family, benefit immensely from being part of a mentorship group that emphasizes real, face-to-face interactions. Such groups not only provide a sense of belonging but also offer a safe space for emotional expression and support.

  1. Intentional Relationship Building: Building genuine relationships requires intentionality. Teens need to be encouraged and given opportunities to engage in real-world social interactions. This could mean practicing basic social skills like making eye contact, starting conversations, or even ordering pizza over the phone. These skills, which may seem minor, play a significant role in developing a teen’s ability to form and maintain relationships.
  2. Practical Steps for Parents and Guardians: Parents and guardians can play a pivotal role by encouraging their teens to engage in activities that require interpersonal interactions. Scheduling their own appointments or participating in community service can serve as valuable practice for teens. Encouraging such activities helps build confidence and reduces anxiety associated with social interactions.
  3. Creating Opportunities for Mentorship: Mentorship groups that bring together teens from various backgrounds can be particularly beneficial. These groups provide a platform for teens to interact with peers outside their immediate social circle, offering new perspectives and experiences. Mentorship can come in many forms, including peer mentoring, where older teens guide younger ones, or adult mentoring, where adults provide guidance based on their life experiences.
  4. The Role of Schools and Community Organizations: Schools and community organizations have a unique opportunity to facilitate mentorship programs. By organizing clubs, workshops, and social events focused on building social skills and fostering community, these institutions can help fill the gap left by the digital divide.

The Path Forward

If you’re not sure where to begin, and how to find support in your local community, check out these potential sources to provide teens with the resources to foster real-world connections.


Camps, whether focused on sports, arts, science, or adventure, provide a rich environment for teens to step out of their comfort zones and engage with peers who share similar interests. These settings are ripe for mentorship, with camp counselors and instructors playing pivotal roles in guiding teens through new experiences, teamwork, and personal challenges. Specialty camps, such as leadership camps or wellness retreats, art or sport camps, offer curated experiences aimed at developing specific skills and traits in young people.

Special Classes and Workshops

Many community centers, libraries, and schools offer classes and workshops that cater to a wide range of interests— from creative writing and pottery to financial literacy and public speaking. These classes not only help teens develop new skills but also allow them to interact with mentors and peers in a structured yet relaxed environment. Specialized workshops can also address topics like self-esteem, stress management, and navigating family changes, providing both skill development and emotional support.

Musical Groups and Theatre Programs

Participation in musical groups, whether through school bands, choirs, or local youth orchestras, offers teens an outlet for expression and collaboration. Similarly, theatre programs, including acting, set design, and production, encourage creativity, empathy, and teamwork. These artistic endeavors connect teens with mentors—directors, conductors, and more experienced peers—who can guide their artistic and personal growth. The camaraderie and shared goals inherent in these programs foster deep connections and mutual support among participants.

Coding and STEM Opportunities

The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are not just about individual achievement; they thrive on collaboration and mentorship. Coding clubs, robotics teams, and STEM camps introduce teens to mentors and role models in these fields, providing insight into potential career paths and developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These environments also encourage teamwork, with participants often working together on projects or competitions, building social skills alongside technical expertise.

Community Service and Volunteering

Engaging in community service and volunteering offers teens a pathway to connect with their communities, develop empathy, and gain perspective on their own experiences. Through these activities, teens can find mentorship in organization leaders and connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds, broadening their understanding of the world and their place within it.

Online Platforms

While fostering real-world connections is the goal, online platforms can also play a supportive role in connecting teens with mentorship opportunities. Websites and apps dedicated to mentorship can match teens with mentors based on interests, goals, and experiences. Additionally, online forums and social media groups focused on specific hobbies or challenges can provide a sense of community and peer support, even if the initial connection is digital.

The Path to Connection

Incorporating these activities into a teen’s life can dramatically enrich their social landscape, providing not only an antidote to the isolation and self-absorption exacerbated by digital media but also a foundation for building meaningful, lasting relationships. Through camps, classes, creative groups, STEM opportunities, and community service, teens can discover passions, develop skills, and find mentorship that will guide them through the complexities of adolescence and beyond.

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