It should go without saying, but if you and your spouse are getting divorced, it is not your child’s fault. Just so there is no misunderstanding, it can be said another way: your child is not to blame for your divorce, and he or she should not be treated as if it is his or her fault. This concept may seem fairly simple, but as a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that you do not make your child feel responsible for the failure of your marriage. Ignoring this reality could lead to long-term emotional and psychological issues for your child and could damage your relationship with him or her forever.
Throughout the last several decades, many studies have looked at the reasons that couples pursue a divorce and the life events that can lead to disagreements and problems in a marriage. It is true that the birth of a child can create new stresses for some couples, possibly pushing the spouses apart over time. Even in cases such as these, an eventual divorce is not the child’s fault. The responsibility still lies with the parents to only have a child if they are ready, willing, and able to change their lives accordingly.
Once you and your spouse have decided that a divorce is inevitable, you will need to tell your child about your upcoming life changes. It is imperative to be very clear that your decision was in no way affected by anything your child has ever said or done—or not said or not done, as the case may be. Using your words is only the first step, however, as you can say that it is not his or her fault, but if you act angry or resentful toward your child, your actions may be telling him or her the opposite.
It is also important to be aware that your own emotional reactions to the situation could have unintended consequences. That is not to say that you do not have the right to be sad, angry, or to cry at times, but children have the tendency to believe that the world essentially revolves around them. If your child sees you crying or being sad, he or she is likely to think that he or she is the cause of your sadness—indirectly blaming himself or herself for your divorce. While it may not seem fair for you to have to put on a happy face in front of your children, allowing your child to feel guilty for something he or she has control over is much worse.
The Other Parent
Unless your soon-to-be ex-spouse has a history of abusing your child, your child must be allowed to interact with his or her other parent and to maintain a healthy relationship. The two of you may not have worked as a couple, but keeping your child from the other parent out of anger or spite is equivalent to punishing your child. If your child feels as if he or she is being punished, he or she might start to look for things he or she may have done wrong, potentially leading to taking the unspoken blame for your divorce.
We Can Help
At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., we understand that divorce is a complicated process that could affect children for many years to come. If you are considering a divorce, one of our experienced St. Charles family law attorneys can help you make all of the necessary considerations. Contact our office today and schedule your free initial consultation. Call 630-377-7770 and let us assist you in protecting your rights as well as those of your children.