It's so funny how starting to write on one topic MAKES the next one happen sometimes. Yes, I know, it's totally random, but still.
So today I posted something on Everyone Needs Therapy-- really a piece for therapists who may not have a lot of family therapy experience.
It was about BLAME. And you certainly don't have to be a therapist to get something out of it. Anyway, after I finished, I thought, How do I write a quick little post on the same topic for the other blog (this one)? Then it hit me. I'll write about self-blame.
Seconds later a kid came into the office. We talked about what it was like when her parents got divorced and I remembered the Ultimate Self-Blame Guilt Trip. DIVORCE.
They all think they caused it-- kids, that is. It goes something like this.
Kid is aware that parents are fighting a lot. At some point, usually while looking at the parents, praying no one is going to get hurt, one parent says, Well, YOU should have put away YOUR toys. If YOU had, then Daddy (Mommy) wouldn't be so mad.
Or: Parent TELLS kid a secret, like perhaps that he/she has a boyfriend who is really nice. It doesn't matter if the kid tells the other parent. In kid's heart, when the parents get divorced, it's because one or the other thinks he did. Kid screwed it all up somehow.
Even if there's absolutely no reason to rationally think your kid is self-blaming, you HAVE to check this one out if you're going through a divorce. You HAVE to tell your kids that they did nothing to cause the dissolution of the marriage.
A child thinking that he or she is responsible for the breakup or the marital problems in the family underlies untold, massive, huge numbers of depressive disorders in children and adolescents.
It's one heavy guilt trip that can be prevented with simple clarification. TALK TO YOUR KIDS. FIND OUT WHAT THEY'RE THINKING.
Parents rarely tell their children the real truth behind their divorce, and sometimes that's okay(I have a lot to say on this, usually that it's not). It is NOT okay to allow children to take the responsibility for the breakup. Not ever.
Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc