For divorcing parents, one of the difficult but necessary steps in the process is to tell the children. As sensitively as you break the news, finding out that their parents are splitting up will probably be traumatic for the kids.
Most children adjust to divorce eventually. But in the meantime, they might focus their anger and fear on your ex — or you. Being on the receiving end of your child’s blame can be painful, especially as you are working through your own feelings about the divorce. But children, even teenagers, often do not understand the intricacies involved in marriage and how a divorce isn’t always 100 percent one spouse’s fault.
Helping your kids get over the blame game
You can help your child begin to heal with the following steps:
- Listen to them as they tell you it’s all your fault. Resist the temptation to set the record straight if they don’t have all the facts right. Focus on feelings for now.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings and tell them you can tell they are going through trauma right now.
- Let them know you are sorry that the divorce is hurting them, and that everyone is hurting at the moment.
- Reassure them that things will get better.
It will take time, but being there for the kids emotionally (while not accepting unfair blame or trying to pin the blame on your ex) will help them adapt to the new situation. Eventually, as they age, your children should stop blaming one parent or the other for the divorce. Your relationship with your kids is strong enough to get through this.