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David Baxter

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Children's Bill of Rights in Divorce

by Robert Emery, Ph.D., Psychology Today
September 13, 2010

We talk so much about putting children first in divorce, but do we really?
If we really did put children first - and a lot of people do it right, we honor what I call:


The Children's Bill of Rights in Divorce
  1. The right to love and be loved by both of your parents without feeling guilt or disapproval.
  2. The right to be protected from your parents' anger with each other.
  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.
  4. The right not to have to choose one of your parents over the other.
  5. The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of your parents' emotional problems.
  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.
  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.
Are these unreasonable, "helicopter parent" expectations? Hardly. The list isn't brilliant. It's common sense.

The hard part isn't knowing what to do. The hard part is doing it.

And, I'm sorry but... if you're first reaction is, "Yes, but..." You don't get it.
"Yes, but... my $#%!!% ex..."
"Yes, but... the %$#@@!! courts..."
"Yes, but... my #@%$!^ lawyer or therapist or mediator..."
We know the right thing to do.

Doing the right thing is hard, because of your %$#@! ex, &^%$#! courts, ^%$#$! lawyer/therapist/mediator.

Why anyone would want to go through all the emotional effort?

I can think of only one reason (or 2 or 3 or 4 depending on how lucky you are).
 

Michael Cross

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Thank you for writing this. So many children would be spared lifelong emotional scars if divorcing parents followed this advice. It really comes down to selfishness. When people are going through a divorce so often they don't look beyond their own pain.
 

FellerDan

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Apr 17, 2020
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Great article! Our relationship expired a couple of years ago, so we were passing through tough time. She cheated, I started drinking, however I understood that we couldn't go on that way no longer. Filed for online divorce not to spend extra money for lawyer, she was happy about that and decided to move to Atlanta and build her career. As for custody - she said that she would come to see son every 2 weeks and to tell the truth, I was struggling myself not to blame her for everything. However such articles are a great reminder for me to avoid those "Yes, but...". Thank you, great checklist! I would use it!
 

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