Dear Children of Divorcing Parents,
I am sure that you were all told by your parents that the divorce was or is not your fault. Some of you understand this but I bet a whole bunch of you are not so sure. Maybe you hear or heard your parents fighting about things that you did or said. You might even say to yourselves, “See, it is my fault! They fight about me!”
But really your moms and dads are fighting because they don’t agree about how to take care of the most important things in their lives. If you were not born they would just be arguing about other important things like money or vacations. Sometimes they don’t realize until they have children just how DIFFERENT their ways of loving are. Maybe they don’t remember how it felt when they were young and hurtful things were done to them by their parents (who are your grandparents) and so they do the same things to you. They think they are being loving but they might not agree about how to show that love.
Once in a while one parent’s way to take care of you or get you to listen or behave actually is very hurtful to you. It will not help you to grow up and be a happy adult. Maybe one parent steps up to protect you and then the parents fight or divorce. This is a very hard situation. The adults will figure out a way to parent you separately. That means they will each have their own time with you and their own rules.
Sometimes kids want their parents to get divorced because living with them together is so uncomfortable. Again, it is not your fault if they decide to live away from each other. Just because you felt the same “not good” feelings that they felt, and wished they were not together, does not mean that you caused it to happen. Wishes don’t make things come true. Decisions make things happen and Mom and Dad made that decision to divorce, not you. So don’t worry.
Please remember, they are not fighting because of you, they are fighting because they have different ways of loving what is important to them. You are not a “bad kid”. There is no such thing.
Sending you all lots of love and hugs!
Dr Jean Sez
(I am a psychologist. That is a doctor that listens to kids’ worries and helps them feel better.)
(Jean Wiedholz-Szczesny, Psy.D)
Jean M. Wiedholz-Szczesny, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Milford, Pennsylvania. She has been treating children and families for 27 years and has a special interest in divorcing and blended families. She received her doctorate from Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and completed an internship in infant, child, adolescent and psychology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Dr. Wiedholz-Szczsesny has participated in the legal system as an expert witness in family court in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Florida. She has also consulted in high conflict divorce and abuse cases with the child protective agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Dr. Wiedholz-Szczesny has a unique way of understanding the world from the vantage point of children and hopes to give a warmth and understanding presence to those navigating the pain and confusion of divorce.