It’s My Fault: When Children Blame Themselves for Their Parents’ Divorce

No matter how amicable your divorce is, it’s going to hurt your children. It’s a significant change in their lives. They have to adjust to living with one parent, seeing the other on weekends only, and changing addresses and schools. All these can evoke so many negative feelings, affecting everything in life from school performance to self-perception. One thing that you should watch out for is guilt. Children tend to blame themselves when parents split up. Sometimes, even when you say otherwise, they believe that it’s their fault.

Why Kids Blame Themselves

There are many reasons why kids feel guilty when parents decide to divorce. For one, it’s emotionally easier for them to take responsibility for what went wrong. This usually happens when the two divorcing individuals point fingers at each other. To reconcile conflicting emotions, the kid blames themselves. That way, they won’t have to resent any parent, keeping their relationship with their mom and dad intact. They need that type of security during such a confusing phase in their lives. Another reason is that kids tend to think literally. Abstract thinking starts to develop when children hit their teen years. It’s difficult for youngsters to understand or imagine the complexity of relationships. In their minds, the most “rational” reason for their parents’ separation is them, that they’ve become a handful or they did something they’re not supposed to do.

The more unfortunate reality is that parents are often emotionally unavailable to their children because they’re preoccupied with the stress of legal paperwork and personal issues. This is why it’s essential to get all the help of experts down and those in your social circles. Look for reliable family solicitors. London-based firms can be an excellent place to start. You can also consult a therapist, psychologist, or spiritual counselor. Most importantly, don’t ever isolate yourself from your family and friends. Prioritize self-care so that you can help your children cope with the reality of your broken family.

What You Can Do

moving out

You should prepare well before announcing your divorce. Reassure your children that it’s not their fault. Without going into the minute details, let them know that you’ve had problems that you tried to work on but failed to address or agree on. Try not to blame the other parent when doing this talk. Doing so will be counterproductive for your child’s potential guilt. When you fight in front of them and expose the ills of your marriage, you’re giving them more things to think about (or be guilty about).

It’s equally important to give them a heads-up about what’s about to change in their lives. They might interpret living with one parent or moving to another school as punishment for the “wrong” they did. So you should inform them early on that these adjustments are part of their new lives. Remember that there are legal implications if you want to change things after divorce. Relocation, for instance, will require approval from the court if you and your ex don’t agree.

Ultimately, divorce cases significantly affect kids. You might be stressed by the legal battle, but don’t ever make the mistake of neglecting your children’s well-being or happiness.

Scroll to Top