Children of Divorce have rights, too

Children of divorce have rights, too

Children of divorce are being parented by (former) children of divorce at record levels these days. Those of us whose parents pioneered the art of tearing their marriage asunder taught us a lot about what works and what doesn't. Now our children should be the beneficiaries of our wisdom, right? Those of us who came from "broken homes" know how hard it can be, and we know all the ways parents can make it easier, more humane, even positive. So, I think it's time we set up some ground rules. In that spirit, I offer a Bill of Rights for our children.

1. You have the right to your feelings – all of them, whenever they come, whatever they are.

2. You have the right to be listened to, heard, understood and taken seriously.

3. You have the right to be stunned, shaken to your core, to be in disbelief.

4. You have the right to feel betrayed and to feel the foundation of everything you thought to be true is shaking beneath you.

5. You will probably see one parent thrive and another one suffer for a while. You have the right to find that appalling and confusing.

6. You may be called 'selfish' if you express your feelings. You have the right to be 'selfish.'

7. You have the right to feel it's unfair that one parent seems to move on quickly, easily finding a new love, a new life, without looking back. That hurts. You have every right to feel hurt and angry by that and to tell your fast-moving parent to slow down.

8. You have the right to ask questions and to have them answered honestly and appropriately by your parents.

9. You have the right to be treated with respect, to be told the truth, to be included in the process.

Read A Bill of Rights for Children of Divorce

About the Author

Pam Cytrynbaum

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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