Helping You Find Practical Solutions In Divorce & Co-Parenting
Helping You Find Practical Solutions In Divorce & Co-Parenting

Magical thinking and a child’s perceptions of divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2023 | Divorce

Children do not always perceive divorce the same way that adults do. This is one of the reasons that divorce experts will often tell parents they need to stress exactly how much they love their children. They also need to tell the children that they did not cause the divorce.

To parents, both of these things may be exceedingly obvious. They know that the divorce is happening because of infidelity, financial stress or something else that they can clearly identify. They know that the children had nothing to do with it and did not cause it. They also firmly know that they still love their children and are committed to being excellent co-parents, even when they are no longer married. So why do children look at it differently?

A young person’s mind is still developing

In some cases, the reason for this is simply that children look at the world differently than adults. Their brains are still developing, and they will engage in something known as magical thinking. This is where they attribute too much power to their own thoughts.

For example, perhaps your child was punished for something that they did. They may have gotten into an argument with your spouse and told them that they wished they didn’t have to live together anymore. As a parent, you may have completely forgotten about this argument, but the child may remember it. When the divorce is announced, they may believe that their own thoughts had enough power to cause their parents to split up so that the whole family wouldn’t live together.

Of course, none of this is actually happening. But parents need to be aware of how children are looking at things when they have conversations about divorce and explain the process to them. 

Working through that process

Getting divorced with children can be complicated. As you and your spouse move through this process of ending your marriage, be sure you know about all of your custody rights and your other legal options.