Kids of divorce:ever consider it "your fault"

In many books about divorce, it is mentioned that you must assure the couples’ children they were not the cause of the divorce. This has always struck me as odd; the notion that I was responsible for my parents’ divorce has never entered my mind. Then again I was still an infant when my parents broke up. So when your parents divorced did you even worry it was “your fault”? And do you think as an adult that you did help cause the divorce?


My parents separated when I was 8, and shortly after we moved interstate to live with my mum’s parents.

It’s not a lie for me to say I have no memories of my parents interacting with each other before that day they came into my bedroom to tell me they were splitting up. And even that memory I’m not sure is legitimate.

But when I think back to my childhood, none of my memories include my parents interacting with each other. And if I can’t remember their interactions, why the hell would I think that I was to blame for any of their issues with each other?

But then my memory is kinda faulty, so who knows. Maybe if I did remember anything I would blame myself.

Fuck no.

No (although I was 21 when it happened). If anything, my existence delayed the divorce until long after it was due.

Yes, I did. I was not yet one when my father moved my mother (pregnant with my brother) and me out of the house and left us in a city 80 miles away. He return home and filed for divorce. By the time I was seven I assumed it was somehow my fault. I have been told in therapy that this isn’t uncommon.

Interestingly at age 14 I found I was the reason they got married in the first place.

I did; I was 12 when it happened. Obviously, I figured out later in my teen life that I was not the cause of skirt chasing.

Retracted because I don’t know the answer.

Olives, I know from your post history that your mom is … different. The divorce wasn’t your fault. Hell, I don’t know how any kid could actually consider it their fault unless they planned it all out like a reverse Parent-Trap.

Nope, not their divorce, nor my bat-shit crazy mother’s subsequent divorces either.

Bit of a hijack, I guess, but when weighing my kids’ thoughts about their mom and me divorcing I locked onto this one as being worse baggage than them blaming themselves. Both are pretty horrible, but one would have been true.

Yes, I did. Because, in a weird way, it was. Not the divorce, but the timing of it.

My parents never fought. This wasn’t a child’s impression and them keeping fighting behind closed doors, this is something I’ve independently verified with them as an adult. They both have avoidant personalities, and rather than fight, or even discuss their issues, they froze each other out.

Then some movie came out I wanted to see, and Mom wouldn’t let me. Don’t recall what or why. What I do recall was that Mom was out for an evening and I was home alone with Dad. When Mom got home, for some bizarre reason, I lied to her and told her Dad took me to see that movie.

“But I had the car, how did you get to the movie?” She asked.

“Melissa came over with her car and took us to the movie!” I lied.

Melissa was a friend of my parents’. Melissa was also the woman my father was (unbeknownst to my 6 year old self) having an affair with. :smack:

My mother lost it, and for the first time, ever, she started screaming at my dad, and he yelled back (denying my tale, of course), and the rest of the night was filled with doors slamming and feet stomping around.

About a week later, the bedtime visit to my room to tell me they weren’t going to live together anymore, and Melissa and my dad were moving to another state, but Mom and I weren’t.

(Note to parents: Please don’t tell your kids that you’re divorcing while they’re lying in bed waiting to be tucked in for the night. Every single child of divorce I’ve talked to found out like this, and it SUCKS! Who the hell can fall asleep after that?! And Bed is no longer a safe and secure spot when it’s soaked in your tears.)

Now, of course there was other Grownup Stuff going on that I didn’t know about, and Dad was being forced to move to another state because of his job anyhow…the plan was for us to move with him, but my mom decided after that fight that she didn’t want to. I’m fairly certain she would have come to that realization *eventually *without my unwitting intervention, but I’m also fairly sure that the fight - the only real fight they ever had - was the last straw for her. The fight I caused with my lying.

So yes. Sometimes, not only do children of divorce feel like it’s their fault, but sometimes…they’re not entirely wrong.

(And, with the clarity of an adult, I’m glad. I could see it going another way, where Mom wouldn’t have found the courage to leave him and we’d all moved, only to have the marriage disintegrate after we were in a new state with no family or friends for a support system. And Melissa and my dad did eventually marry, and she’s the most awesome stepmother ever, and a much better partner for my dad than my mom was.)

My parents divorced when I was eight in the early 70s. All of those stupid kids books about divorce made a big point not to blame yourself. I thought that that was ridiculous and it never would have occurred to me to blame myself.

BTW, my sister and I were told sitting around a table, not in bed.

I know it isn’t my fault now, I guess I was trying to figure out if I ever felt it was.

My Mom divorced four times and had at least that many serious boyfriends. I took the vast majority of the breakups and divorces in stride, not feeling responsible or particularly heartbroken.

However, there were two big exceptions. I felt responsible for the breakup of my Mom’s second marriage for a long time. The marriage ended when he confessed to her that he abused me; I was only three so I remembered very little, but I did remember testifying against him in court. He went to prison and I never saw him again. And since I was young, and didn’t remember very much, I basically assumed for several years thereafter that it had all been some colossal misunderstanding and I had testified falsely against him and ruined their marriage. When this finally came out, my Mom explained to me very thoroughly all the evidence against him including his own testimony and how it’s normal for a three year old not to remember what happened.

However, that experience really stayed with me. And while I took most of the breakups and divorces in stride, I really felt responsible for holding together her fourth marriage, even when I started getting abused again. By the time it fell apart I was old enough to know better, but as a kid I did everything I could to succeed where I had failed the first time. For a long, long time I told nobody about the abuse because I knew it would be the end of our family, and I wasn’t going to do that to my Mom after she finally found someone for the long haul. And in all honesty I do believe when that secret finally got out it contributed heavily to the eventual decision to divorce. And there are times I think it would be better if I had never said a word. While I don’t blame myself for what happened, I do wonder if I was a bit selfish to talk about the abuse knowing what an absolute shitstorm it would cause.

So I guess the short answer is Yes.

Much better place, IMHO. That’s where my ex and I told our kids, too. :slight_smile:

Nope. My Dad liked drinking beer more than working. My Mom worked her butt of to support me, and couldn’t support a lazy guy with a drinking habit as well. Not my fault all. I was so glad when they finally divorced. We suddenly had a lot more money, and there was no more fighting.


Why are people so stupid?

Simple fucking tact (something I’ve never been accused of understanding too well) should tell people not to do this–not to mention deep and abiding love for their children and concern for their well-being.

This isn’t what I meant to say. I don’t mean selfish, exactly. I just meant to say I wish I’d truly understood the consequences better and could have made a more informed decision. But I’m not responsible for my parents’ dysfunctional relationships and I believe on some level some part of me has always known that.

Nope, never blamed myself, and as far as I know, neither did any of my sisters.

I don’t think age always makes a difference. A relative of mine was two when her parents divorced but apparently still felt growing up that it was her fault.

If you need to tell your kids, bring them into the laundry room and tell them there. No one likes the laundry room anyway.

My parents divorced when I was 11 and my sister 13. My father worked evenings so I never really interacted with them as a couple very often and it never occurred to me to think I was the cause (I wasn’t; his affair with his secretary was).