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

Why do children think they cause divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Divorce

If you and your spouse are getting divorced, you certainly don’t believe that it is your child’s fault. You know that they had nothing to do with the split. In fact, you may even think that getting divorced is going to be better for your child overall and that this is a positive decision for the future. It’s not a negative event caused by anyone, much less your child. 

But the fact remains that many children will blame themselves, so it’s important for parents to know how to push back against this unintentional narrative. Why do children think that it’s their fault and what can you do about it?

Magical thinking and negative events

There are many potential reasons that may be unique to your specific child, but many children are just engaging in something known as magical thinking. They don’t do this intentionally. They just believe that thoughts are more powerful than they are and can shape their reality.

For instance, perhaps a child got into an argument with their parents about bedtime. Frustrated, they said that they wished they didn’t even live with their parents anymore. When the news of the divorce comes out, the child may think that it’s their fault because now their wish is coming true and at least one of their parents are moving out. 

Additionally, for other negative events in a child’s life, the ramifications often are their fault. They are trying to learn about boundaries and the world around them. If the child views the divorce as a negative event, they may naturally think they must have done something to cause it because other things – getting in trouble with their parents, accidentally getting injured – have been their fault. They’re just misinterpreting what’s happening because they are in the very early stages of brain development.

Now that you know why this happens, it is important to talk to your child and reassure them that they didn’t cause the divorce. It’s also wise to look into your legal options to keep putting your child first as the divorce plays out.