It’s quite common for children to think the divorce is their fault. It’s also common for parents to be worried about exactly this phenomenon.
From the parents’ perspective, it is quite obvious that their divorce is not the child’s fault, and they don’t want to put that type of stress on their children. So, why do children think this?
There are a few different reasons, one of which is that children may engage in magical thinking, which is overestimating the tangible power of their own thoughts and desires. Another reason could be that children are fairly self-centered in their worldview, as they grow up and develop, so many of the other things that have happened to them are their fault — or at least are influenced by them in some way. They naturally apply this to something major like a divorce, even though an adult can see that the child was certainly not the reason.
What can you do about it?
Perhaps the biggest thing to do is just to have a conversation with your child where you tell them that you love them, stressing that both parents care for them and that will never change. You can also explain to them that the divorce was not their fault. Depending on their age, giving them some more details about what actually caused the divorce can help, although this does get tricky, depending on how much you want to discuss with your child.
It’s also important to focus on stability and security for the child as you and your co-parent determine the custody solution that should be used. Be sure you look into all of your options to determine what will be best in your case.