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Parenting Page Session Nine
It's not my fault

This week's goal:
To communicate to your children that divorce is an adult problem between two adults and to help your children understand the divorce is not their fault.

What the experts say:
God designed children to rely on their parents. That is why children are naturally self-centered. Is it any wonder that over half of the children involved in a divorce think the divorce is their fault? Some younger elementary-age children think they can pinpoint the exact time and cause of the divorce. They may think that not cleaning their room caused the divorce. Or perhaps it was the time they yelled at their sibling. Or maybe it was when they ran the toy car into the wall and caused Mom and Dad to start arguing. In their creative, self-focused minds they conjure up all kinds of reasons why the divorce must be their fault. Some children even think the divorce is a punishment for some sin they have committed. Unfortunately, most adults forget to tell the children that the divorce is not their fault.

One family's story:

Many divorced people carry a double burden—adjusting to a new role as a single person and providing physical and emotional support for their children. The children especially need love and acceptance during this difficult time, and they need to know that they are not to blame for causing the divorce.

Be honest with them about the situation. “My first and most immediate problem,” relates a divorced mother of six, “was telling the children. I knew my children well enough to know that if their father and I didn’t talk with them about our divorce, the older teenagers would assume their own explanation—or hear one from someone else; the middle children would blame themselves; and I feared the tiny ones would feel abandoned, unloved, and unwanted.

“I felt it would be ideal if their father and I could sit down and discuss it with them together, but there was no unity left in our marriage, so I pondered what I might say to them alone. Without going into lengthy details, and trying to be as objective as possible, I decided to tell them the truth, explaining that both of us had faults. I told them when their father would be moving, where, and when they would see him again. I was quick to reassure them that we both loved them very much, that they were not the cause of the breakup, and that nothing they could do would change it.  (After Divorce- Clearing the Hurdles  Ensign Aug 1985)

This week's Scripture focus:
1 Corinthians 13:11:
 "When I was a child, I talked
like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."

Building family strengths:
Realize that children are children. They don't think like adults nor should they be expected to. Tell them repeatedly that the divorce is not their fault. Think through the past week. How many times did you hug your children? How gentle were you with them? How many times did you turn and look them in the face and give them your full attention when they were talking to you? Did you touch their shoulders or arms when they were talking to you? How much physical attention are your children getting from you? People don't touch elementary-age children very often, yet the children need the gentleness of a soft touch. Jesus said in Luke 18 to let the children come to Him. Jesus was known for His healing touch. Plan ways to provide soft healing touches in your family. Hugs can do wonders for stomachaches and heartaches. You might want to start a "Family Hug Time" where everyone hugs each other at the same time. Try shouting "Family Hug Time" and see what happens.