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 unpredictable 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.
This composition is a widely circulated one. Sad that it had to be written in the first place, but good that it is available since I believe that divorce is always originally caused by selfish decisions--and selfish people tend to not change. A written set of guidelines for those people can be particularly valuable in advocating for the children, and for mediating between the adults about the children in a "broken family" sort of situation.
I challenge you to create a bill of rights for the children in your home, married or not. Keeping yourself accountable as a parent is the second step in being a good parent. The first step is true love--make sure you know how to do it correctly.