Rights of Children of Divorce

  • Continue to love both  parents without guilt or disapproval (subtle or overt) by either parent or other
    relatives.
  • Be repeatedly reassured that the divorce is not their fault.
  • Be assured they are safe for and their needs will be provided for.
  • Have a special place for their own belongings at both parents’ residences.
  • Visit both parents regardless of what the adults in the situation feel, and  regardless of convenience, or money situations.
  • Express anger and sadness in their own way, according to age and personality  (not have to give justification for their feelings or have to cope with trying  to be talked out of their feelings by adults).
  • Not be messengers between parents; not to carry notes, legal papers, money or  requests between parents.
  • Not make adult decisions, including where they will live, where and when they  will be picked up or dropped off, or who is to blame.
  • Love as many people as they choose without being made to feel guilty or  disloyal.(Loving and being loved by many people is good for children; there is  not a limit on the number of people a child can love.)
  • Continue to be kids, i.e. not take on adult duties and responsibilities or  become a parent’s confidant, companion or comforter (i.e. not to hear  repeatedly about financial problems or relationship difficulties).
  • Stay in contact with relatives, including grandparents and special family friends.
  • Choose to spend at least one week a year living apart from their custodial parent.
  • Not be on an airplane, train or bus on major holidays for the convenience of the adults.
  • Have teachers and school informed about the status of their families.
  • Have time with each parent doing activities that create a sense of closeness  and special memories.
  • Have a daily and weekly schedule that is predictable and can be verified by  looking at a schedule on a calendar in a system understandable to the child  (For instance: a green line represents the scheduled time with dad, and a  purple line represents the scheduled time with mom, etc.).
  • Participate in sports, special classes or clubs that support their unique  interests, and have adults that will get them to these events, on time without  guilt or shame.
  • Contact absent parent and have phone conversations without eavesdropping or tape-recording.
  • Ask questions and have them answered respectfully with age-appropriate answers  that do not include blaming or belittlements of anyone.
  • Have consistent and predictable boundaries in each home. (Although the rules in  each house may differ significantly, each parent’s set of rules needs to be  predictable with their household).
  • Be protected from hearing adult arguments and disputes.
  • Have parents communicate (even if only in writing) about their medical  treatment, psychological treatment, educational issues, accidents or illnesses.
  • Not be interrogated upon from the other parent’s home or asked to spy in the other parent’s home.
  • Own pictures of parents.
  • Choose to talk with a special adult about their concerns and issues (counselor,  therapist or special friend). 

© 1998 Dr. Lois V. Nightengale, Clinical Psychologist (lic.# PSY9503), Professional Speaker and director of the Nightengale Counseling Center in Yorba Linda, Ca. She is the author of several books, including "My Parents Still Love Me Even Though They’re getting Divorced."

 

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