One of the most heartbreaking things you can experience as a divorcing parent is to have your child ask, “Are you divorcing because of me?”
They might not ask it in precisely that way. They might relate the situation to a particular thing they did. Regardless, it’s clear children often think divorce is their fault.
While it might seem a silly question to you, it’s a legitimate one as far as they’re concerned. Here’s why.
Many children (developmentally) think that the world revolves around them
Think about a toddler. They grow up as the center of attention. They know they have the power to make you and others smile, laugh, cry or shout. They think the world revolves around them because, from what they can see, it does.
As kids get older, they realize it doesn’t revolve around them so much anymore. However, they’ve likely noticed that you and their other parent don’t always agree over things concerning them.
Examples could include your spouse taking your teenage daughter’s side when you say she’s grounded for a month. Or you defending your son who has ADHD when your spouse claims he needs to work harder in school. Your children hear it all and may believe they are the real problem in your marriage.
Perhaps the best way to show that your child is not responsible for your divorce is to act with kindness and respect toward both your child and each other during the divorce process and after. If you can do that, your child is more likely to accept that the reasons you give them for divorcing are simply because things have changed, not because there is some lingering issue involving them at play.