You know that your children did not cause your divorce. The issues in your marriage, between the two of you as a couple, did that. Maybe it was financial stress, not spending enough time together, growing apart or not being faithful to the marriage. No matter the reason, the blame doesn’t fall on your kids.

Even so, one of the best pieces of advice you can get is to reassure the children of this fact. Tell them that they did not cause you to get divorced. They should not feel guilty. They should not assume it was their fault.

But why do they? As an adult, it’s easy to overlook this type of assurance because it seems obvious that it wasn’t their fault. Why do they need you to tell them?

Part of the reason, child experts note, is that children are always learning. Typically, when something is unpleasant or uncomfortable, they did cause it. That’s part of the learning process.

A child goes near a hot stove and a parent tells them no. A child is mean to their sibling and has to spend time in time out. A child decides not to do their homework and gets both a lecture and a failing grade.

They’re figuring out how the world works, and they know they’re making mistakes as they learn. When family life feels stressful and uncomfortable due to the divorce, they instinctively think they must have done something wrong. They feel like it is their fault even if they do not know how or why it could be.

That’s why reassurance is good, and it is also part of the reason you need to know how to legally put the children first during a divorce.