A divorce can be extremely upsetting to children, and the complexity of the circumstances leading to a divorce may be difficult for them to fully comprehend. It is understandable that they may feel angry and assign blame to one or both parents.
Children may simply wish to identify a clear cause for what happened. Alternatively, they may want to enhance their sense of security in a relationship with one parent by inculpating the other. Here are some tips for parents who are struggling to address their children’s hostility in the aftermath of a divorce.
Do not attempt to shift blame
A parent’s instinct may be to defend themselves by citing all of the things that a spouse did wrong. Vilifying children’s other parent is unlikely to help the situation and could make it worse.
Demonstrate accountability when necessary
In some instances, one spouse really is largely to blame for the breakdown of a marriage. If a marriage ended due to conduct such as infidelity or problems with addiction, the best course of action may be for parents to simply own up to it. They can talk about what they have learned from their mistakes and how they plan to make positive changes going forward.
Help children express what they need to
Parents should not ignore what their children are feeling. Instead, they need to guide them through talking about divorce constructively.
Communication and compassion are the most essential elements in dealing with emotional backlash from children after divorce. Parents need to be patient and supportive as their children cope with change.