[I]n the continuing theme of “What’s in the Best Interest of a Child,” divorce mediation expert Robert Emery, PhD has come up with “The Children’s Bill of rights in Divorce.” In a partial summary, Dr. Emery says, “If you can give your children these freedoms, you will have gone a long way toward filling your responsibilities as a parent.”
The Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce
Every child of divorced parents has:
1. The right to love and be loved by both of your parents without feeling guilt or disapproval. Give your children the freedom to love and be loved by the other parent. Don’t discourage this.
2. The right to be protected from your parents’ anger with each other. Keep kids out of the fight. Especially don’t involve your children in your anger towards the other parent.
3. The right to be kept out of the middle of your parents’ conflict, including the right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent. Divorce is a personal adult issue. It is not one from which you need to involve your kids.
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4. The right not to have to choose one of your parents over the other. Do children have the right to vote? Opt out of elementary school? Go off to war? Drink? Smoke? No of course not. Don’t put adult pressures on kids by involving them or asking them to pick a parent to live with.
5. The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of your parents’ emotional problems. Children are not professional therapist. Please don’t treat them as such. If you need help, get help from the proper sources.
6. The right to know well in advance about important changes that will affect your life; for example, when one of your parents is going to move or get remarried. Do keep children informed, but don’t ask for their approval or weigh them down with your decision process.
7. The right to reasonable financial support during your childhood and through your college years.
8. The right to have feelings, to express your feelings, and to have both parents listen to how you feel.
9. The right to have a life that is a close as possible to what it would have been if your parents stayed together.
10. The right to be a kid. We spend our whole lives trying to grow up only to figure out we’ll spend the rest of our wishing we were younger. Let kids be kids and enjoy the present.
Reflect and Focus on the Kid’s Perspective of Divorce
The bottom line, divorce is hard. It is even harder and most disruptive to children. During the divorce process, really consider the impact it will have on your children and what YOU, and you alone, can do to make it as smooth as possible for your kids.
What would you add? What suggestions do you have to make divorce better for our kids?
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