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Is It My Fault My Parents End Up Divorced?

Updated: May 31

Children often internalise their parents' issues and blame themselves for their parents' disputes and illness. When their parents argue, the children may think it is because they didn't behave well, especially when they hear their name mentioned in the argument. Many children also struggle with guilt and self-blame when their parents divorce. The children are baffled by questions of why their parents divorced and blamed themselves for not behaving well enough or not worthy enough for their parents to stay together. The children often misinterpreted that if they had better behaved, performed better in school, or didn't fight with their siblings, they could have prevented their parents from separating. Children who believe that they are the cause of their parent's divorce often grow up feeling insecure, struggling with the constant fear of fearful of being abandoned, leading to anxiety and depression.


Parents play an essential role in elevating their children's self-blame. Parents need to deliver consistent messages of reassurance. It is helpful for parents to listen to their children's concerns and assure their children of continued co-parenting and communication. Keeping communication open between parents and children helps alleviate the child's fears and encourages them to share their concerns. Parents in conflict must not use their children as messengers between the parents as it will just send the children into a state of confusion and guilt. 


Another helpful avenue for the children to process their parent's divorce is psychotherapy. There are many therapeutic approaches, such as play therapy and expressive art therapy, which provide a safe environment for children to process their emotions and beliefs and recognise that they are not responsible for their parent's divorce. Therapy for the children of divorce may include learning healthy coping strategies to cope with the loss.


Therapy may also be beneficial for divorced parents to process their issues separately and learn to navigate co-parenting dynamics. Understanding the impact of their behaviour on their children's emotional well-being is critical. Research shows that children who feel supported and encouraged by both parents during and after a divorce cope better and feel more secure. Parents should avoid arguing and passing comments and unkind remarks about the other parent to their children, which can worsen the children's internal conflict and self-blame. 


Restoring Peace is a private mental health centre that provides counselling and psychotherapy services for individuals and couples with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, and various mental health challenges. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848. For periodic updates, we invite you to join our Telegram group, https://t.me/restoringpeace


Keywords: blame, children, parents, divorce, magical thinking, therapy, separation, parenting


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