When a Child Blames One Parent for the Divorce
This is all your fault, Mom / Dad! It's not unusual for a child to break down in tears and start blaming one parent or the other whom they feel is responsible for the split-up. Divorces usually come out of family conflict that has been escalating for a while, and children often develop ideas during this buildup to the divorce about who is more at fault. Older kids may even be aware of one parent's infidelity or other transgressions. If you hear such a statement, it's important you do the following:
A) Don't lose your temper, if you're the targeted parent. Regardless of how hurt you feel, the worst thing you could do is get upset at the child. This will only reinforce her views and further create a disconnect.
B) If you're discussing this together as you should be, the other parent needs to step in and accept half the blame. As gratifying as it may feel to hear your youngster blame things on your ex, it isn't helpful, and it isn't accurate. Even if one parent did contribute more to the disharmony, it always takes two to divorce.
C) Make it clear (if you can) that this is a mutual decision, but don't lie to them if it isn't. By mutual, we mean that both partners have decided it best to end the relationship; not whose fault is it more' that the relationship ended.
D) If one parent is demanding a divorce, but the other would like to stay in the marriage, be honest to them about this. But don't turn it into a blame game to attack the other partner or send them down a guilt-trip. A marriage is two people, and if one feels they can't continue, those are their feelings. It doesn't mean they should shoulder all the blame.
E) Let kids know that sometimes things just happen. The reality is that nobody needs to be "to blame." Explain to the child that neither of you intended for the marriage to go like this. When you got married, both of you had the desire to stay married. Since neither of you intended for things to turn crappy, it also means that neither of you were trying to make things crappy. Since there is no malicious intent involved, it does no good to cast blame on accidents. More importantly, it accomplishes nothing more than to make everyone feel worse.