How to Keep Your Children from Blaming Themselves

Divorce is very emotional for the adults going through it, but it can be more confusing and emotional for the children.  The parents may be tempted to make comments about the other parent that are clearly inappropriate. The parent may be tempted to make the children an ally by bringing them into your camp. You must resist these temptations and try to keep your children out of the divorce.  The family law attorneys at Edgar Family Law can help you handle these delicate emotional issues. 

Call (888) 251-9618 today for a Riverside divorce attorney who understands what your children need and how to protect them during the divorce. 

For kids, divorce can be extra painful. Part of the pain of divorce for young children is confusion—most kids lack the maturity to understand why divorce happens and the factors behind it. Because children are naturally self-centered, it’s easy for them to assume that the divorce is about them. Combined with an active imagination, you have a recipe for an emotionally-damaging disaster.

Your job as a parent will be to clarify to your children (as best as possible) that this isn’t about them and is not their fault. By doing so, you’ll help them feel secure about their lives and how much you love them. Remember, as an adult, you’re able to assess situations logically and realistically—your children don’t have that skill yet. You’ll need to guide them through your divorce in a healthy way.

Here are the 4 things you need to say to your kids:

#1: “It’s Not Your Fault I’m Leaving”

Be crystal clear with your kids that your divorce is about you and your spouse. It has nothing to do with how they behaved, and there’s nothing they did to cause the divorce to happen. Lots of kids will try to “bargain” with you to stay by promising to be “extra good.” Assure them that they are already extra good—but you need to leave because Mommy and Daddy need to be apart.

#2: “Your Mommy/Daddy Isn’t Leaving Too”

A child’s greatest fear during divorce is that both parents are leaving. Let them know without a doubt that they will always live with you or your spouse—and that only one of you will be moving out. The key here is anticipating your child’s most irrational fears and addressing them gently and clearly.

#3: “We Both Love You”

Your kids need to know that no matter what changes between you and your spouse, nothing will change your love for your children. Let them know that you and your spouse still love them, even if you do not live together anymore. In addition, let them know that you’re still their parent no matter where you are.

#4: “I’ll Call You & Talk to You Whenever You Want”

Not living with your kids will be hard for both of you. Let them know that you’ll still be available to spend time with them, call them, text them, or do whatever you normally do with your kids. Make plans to visit as soon as possible, and make sure you keep any plans you had before the divorce talk.

For further reading on talking to kids about divorce, pick up the following books:

  • Helping Your Kid Cope with Divorce by M. Gary Neuman
  • Divorce Book for Parents by Vicki Lansky
  • Why Did You Have to Get a Divorce--& When Can I Get a Hamster? by Anthony Wolf

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