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Why do some children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 31, 2022 | Divorce

New Jersey parents who go through a divorce often worry about how the split impacts their children. Although kids are resilient, they can experience a variety of emotions and problems during this time. Some children even blame themselves for the divorce.

Children’s emotions during divorce

Children react with a variety of emotions when their parents announce that they plan to divorce. It’s common for shock, sadness, anger and confusion to surface in kids. Although no two kids are the same, another emotion many might experience is guilt. Kids of varying ages often blame themselves for their parents’ divorce.

Why kids feel guilty during a divorce

Guilt is a common emotion that children feel when their parents get a divorce. Usually, elementary school-age kids feel guilty, but teens could experience this feeling as well. Children often blame themselves for the change in the family dynamic when something has happened in their lives. Younger kids might think they’re the reason for the divorce because they struggled academically in school or didn’t help around the house enough.

Adolescents and teens often experience guilt during their parents’ divorce when they have problems in school and behaviorally as well. If an older child falls in with the wrong crowd and gets in trouble with various issues because of peer pressure, it could put a strain on the family. Issues like alcohol or drug use and other criminal activity can lead to disputes between parents, so it’s natural for a child in such a situation to blame themselves.

What parents should do

Parents need to be proactive when their child expresses feeling guilty about the divorce. No matter what their age, kids need reassurance from their parents. They need to be told that they are not to blame for the divorce and that they are loved by both parents.

Divorce is difficult for everyone, but children can take it especially hard. Over time, they will accept it and be fine.