The Effects of Divine Uncoupling
What Parents Can Do to Help
The effects of divorce on children is a hot topic these days – one about which everyone seems to have an opinion. Some people will tell you that divorce is the single most awful thing a parent can inflict upon a child. And others will say that it is not the divorce itself, but how you handle the divorce that makes the difference for your child.
Every divorced or divorcing parent wants to be reassured that their child is going to come through the divorce and be OK.
Divorced parents want guarantees that their children are going to be much better than OK. Parents want to know that their children are going to be great.
No parent wakes up one morning and decides that this is the day he ruins his child’s life? And yet in the back of every parent’s mind is this tiny little nagging voice about the terrible effects of divorce on kids. Scary isn’t it? You don’t want to ruin your child’s life, but you’re not sure where to begin to help.
So how do you provide divorce help and neutralize all the negative effects of divorce for your child that you keep reading about?
Let’s start with the basics. You are the expert on your children. More than any therapist, teacher, or family member, you know your kids. After all, you’ve been with them from day one. You know the ins and outs of their personalities – things like how they handle stress and what helps them feel safe and secure.
Sometimes though, parents want more.
- You may want to know if your child’s behaviors are a normal part of child development or a reaction to your divorce. Knowing what to expect at each developmental stage of your child’s growth can be unbelievably reassuring.
- You want to know how to talk to your children about divorce when it is such an emotionally charged topic for you and them. Talking to your child about your divorce can be tough to even consider. And yet, it is one of the most important conversations you will ever have. Take your time and follow these simple steps to ease your child’s adjustment to your divorce.
- And you want to know what to say and what to do to ease your child’s anxiety about the divorce.
Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce
This children’s bill of rights for children of divorce has been around for awhile now. Many researchers and other professionals include it in their work. I’m not sure who the original author is. I’ve seen one version from Dr. Robert Emery in his book, The Truth about Children and Divorce, and another from Dr. Jane Major in her book Creating a Successful Parenting Plan. And along the way in my reading I have seen other versions with no indication of authorship. The point however, is that even in divorce, adults still have responsibilities to fulfill for their children.
Children of divorce have little to no power. They must live with the decisions that their parents make for them. Believing in and following this basic bill of rights for your children will go a long way toward helping them successfully deal with your decision to divorce.
Bill of Rights for Children of Divorce
- I have the right to love and be loved by both of my parents, without guilt, pressure, disapproval or rejection.
- I have the right to be protected from my parents’ anger.
- I have the right to be kept out of the middle of my parents’ conflict, including the right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent.
- I have the right to have a regular daily and weekly routine, one that is not filled with unpredict able disruptions, chaos, or unpleasant surprises.
- I have the right to not have to choose between my parents. It is my right to not be expected to choose with whom I will live. Having to make this kind of choice will always hurt someone, and therefore, me. I have this right even when I am a teenager. I CAN NEVER CHOOSE BETWEEN MY PARENTS.
- I have the right not to be responsible for the emotional needs of my parents.
- I have the right to know well in advance about any major changes that will affect my life.
- I have the right to reasonable financial support from my parents.
- I have the right to appropriately express my feelings to my parents and expect that they will listen to me.
- I have the right to not be expected to make adult decisions. I have the right to remain a child and not replace a parent in my duties, or to act as an adult companion, personal friend or comforter to my parents.
- I have the right to like and love as many people (such as stepparents and relatives) as I want to without guilt and without being made to feel disloyal.
- I have the right to a life as close as possible to what I would have had if my parents had stayed married to each other.
- Think about your own children and what their bill of rights might include.
You might want to take time to write it out so that it will be fresh in your mind as you continue on your journey of parenting after divorce.