Overcoming Guilt About Divorce

I really love this article by Dr Paul Wanio who is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counsellor in USA:

Sometimes, an obstacle to listening to one’s child is the fear that we will hear something that will produce sadness, anger or guilt in us.  It may also be difficult to listen to negative comments or complaints because of feeling the need to be the “perfect parent” and not wanting to hear that we are causing anymore discomfort to our child.

There can also be times when your child will see everything that you do as wrong and everything that the other parent does as right.  This can easily lead a parent to feeling overly sensitive and defensive.   freeimage-8125437-web  

These emotional situations become obstacles only if you overreact due to taking your child’s comments too personally, assume that you cannot handle the situation, assume that you are a “bad” parent or that you cannot make mistakes.

Having faith in your abilities as a parent, allowing yourself to make mistakes, being less critical of yourself and taking time to think things through will change obstacles into manageable challenges.

To meet these challenges, keep the following in mind:

  • You’re not perfect, and that’s OK
  • You will make mistakes even when doing your best.
  • Divorce is like a death and sometimes the only thing that you can do is to just be there for your child and understand.  That’s all.
  • Your child’s negative comments may simply be an expression of distress and not criticism.
  • Your child’s blaming of you may be a defence against feeling overwhelmed and not meant against you personally — it is merely a young child’s way of coping.
  • Change never happens as quickly as any of us want.  Acceptance and patience will do much to help you through this time.
  • Listen to your child, even when what you hear is hard to accept.
  • Problems can only be dealt with if allowed to be out in the open.
  • It is that which is hidden that causes most of the trouble.
  • Distress is less traumatic when met with love.
  • One incident will rarely cause trauma.  It is the overall feeling, relationship and track record you have with your child that makes the difference.
  • Keep things in perspective and you will not be overwhelmed.  You can handle most any one situation simply because it is just that – one situation.  There are few things that you will face that cannot be fixed, handled and lived with.  (After all, look at what you’ve managed to handle so far!).
  • Tomorrow is another day.

By keeping these ideas in the back of your mind, you will be able to temporarily put aside your own feelings at the proper time and stay focused upon the feelings of your child.  This will not only benefit your child, but will contribute to your own self-esteem and coping skills.  This kind of self-discipline will keep you focused and feeling in control of your life.

*    *    *

Dr. Wanio is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida and author of the book:  “I Love You …I Think: When Sex Disguises Itself As Love.” He has also contributed his professional expertise to chapters in “How Do I Tell the Kids About the DIVORCE?” by Rosalind Sedacca, CCT. He can be reached at drpaul@paulwanio.com or the www.childcentereddivorce.com website.


If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you will find lots more in my ebook “Tips for Coping with Divorce” which you can download here: free ebook.

By signing up you will also receive my monthly newsletter with more free advice on different aspects of divorce.


  1. Thanks for sharing this article. It offers a great deal of valuable advice. By keeping the lines of communication open with children, even if you don’t like what they are saying, you are helping them and yourself deal with this stressful time. It is hard enough for adults to understand what is going on so imagine how complicated it can be for a child. Communication, compassion and love go a long way in helping children deal with a divorce.

Submit a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *