by Robert Emery
Divorced parents still must fulfill their responsibilities to their kids, and in my view, children should have rights in divorced families. Here is my Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce. If you can give your children these freedoms, you will have gone a long way toward filling your responsibilities as a parent.
Every child whose parents divorce has:
- The right to love and be loved by both of your parents without feeling guilt or disapproval.
- The right to be protected from your parents’ anger with each other.
- 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.
- The right not to have to choose one of your parents over the other.
- The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of your parents’ emotional problems.
- 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.
- The right to reasonable financial support during your childhood and through your college years.
- The right to have feelings, to express your feelings, and to have both parents listen to how you feel.
- The right to have a life that is as close as possible to what it would have been if your parents stayed together.
- The right to be a kid.
Robert E. Emery, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia, where he has spent his entire academic career (beginning in 1981). He was Director of Clinical Training at UVA from 1993-2002. Dr. Emery’s research focuses on family relationships and children’s mental health, including parental conflict, divorce, child custody, family violence, and genetically informed studies of all these topics, as well as associated legal and policy issues. His 2004 book, The Truth about Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive, is a classic of enduring value.
This Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce was originally published here.