5 Things Children of Divorce Don’t Want Their Parents Doing

In many cases of divorce, tense situations are inevitable and the children have ties to both ends. In my experience and in my research, many of these situations and disagreements are indirect and the ones who hear it all are the children. Here are five things children of divorce wish their parents would not do:

1. Bad mouth the other parent

– This is the worst thing you can do. Leads to psychological effects and anxiety.

– Why it’s bad – “they are going to experience a tremendous amount of guilt and shame” – Beyond Words Psychological Services


2. Skip child’s event because other parent will be there

– Two grown adults should be able to be in the same room together without making a scene. If there is an ongoing problem with this, parents risk the relationship with their children.


3. Share In depth details about the divorce and child support

– There comes a time when the child understands the reasoning behind the concept of divorce.

“They are not equipped to deal with this information. And it forces them to pick a side.” –  Dr. Brad Klontz, financial psychologist and author of Mind Over Money.


4. Using the child as a messenger

– Putting the child in the middle is what you’re practically doing and it puts the child in a hard place. Even though it is not said directly, it puts a child into a position where they feel like he/she has to choose a side.

“Communicate directly with the other parent rather than making your teen the middle man.” – Meghan Vivo, aspen education group

– This makes the situation about the parents and it also gives the impression that the other parent does not exist.

5. Spy on other parent

– Asking your child what the other parent says about you puts the child in a very awkward situation. Without saying it directly, you are asking the child to choose a side and it will only lead to future troubles.

–        Kids resent it

–        What does your mother say about me?



Share your stories in the comment area. What have you experienced living in a divided family?


Dr. Phil talks with a divorced couple who put their child in the middle:

Three Ways Children Benefit From Divorce

Many would argue the bad outweighs the good when it comes to separations, but there are some benefits that come from a divorce and they focus clearly on the children. I’ve talked about how divorce could be healthy for children, but that’s in a way that a dentist appointment is healthy for a child. However, some benefits are appealing to many children of divorce and they may enjoy them.

1. More options– a wider range of options are available to the children. If Dad is driving you crazy, go to Mom’s and vice versa.

2. Two Christmases

If a parent ever has to sell a child on separation, this would make a strong case. More presents! I remember bragging to my friends that I had six separate Christmas celebrations: parents house X 2, grandparents house X 2, and step parent’s family X 2. It’s just a little perk that comes with living in a divided family.

File:Children in Family Room with New Holiday Christmas Tree - Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt.jpg

3. New experiences

-Step family- It can take a while to get comfortable with a new family and a new parent, but when it does get better it provides new outlets you can open up to. All of my parents and step parents have different personalities and I can relate to each of them in a totally different way. Step parents can offer another release and if you play your cards right, they come in handy when they take your side of an argument over their spouse’s (i.e. your parent).

See more on how else children benefit

The Hardest Times To Be In A Divided Family

Special events and how they will be celebrated are on the mind of many divided families, because not everyone gets their way. Children can only be at one place at a time, so holidays can be hard on everyone. Sometimes are harder than other times, but I’ve narrowed it down to two major categories: Special Occasion events and Holidays.

–         Special occasions– birthdays, graduation, weddings…

-Here, Ross tries to keep Rachel’s parents from seeing each other during her separate birthday parties. Hopefully it never gets this bad:

-You shouldn’t have to sell many children on having two birthday parties (more presents and more cake). However, graduations and weddings are events both parents should be there. When both are there, it’s important that a scene or an argument doesn’t break out between them. The hardest time for a child is seeing their parents argue during a time of celebration, especially one that is focused around that child.

Celebrating Birthday With Dad

–         Holidays

-From my experience, the best way to deal with holidays is through communication. It should not be left up to the children on whom they want to spend Christmas or any of the major holidays with. The children can’t be two places at once and they shouldn’t be in the position where they have to choose.

Here are some ways to deal with this:

  • Communicate- Communication is the key to co-parenting and that is especially true during the holidays. When it comes to holiday presents, try not to buy the same thing as the child’s other parent

Here are some more tips to deal with Christmas Issues

These are just from my experiences, but when are some other times it can get tough?

How Adult Children Can Help Their Parents

Kids can help their parents through a divorce. Younger children may not understand what is going on, but older children and adult children have great influence on their parents. When it comes to the aftermath of a divorce, the kids have a lot more power than what many people may think.The actions of the children can make the situation worse, or they can make the situation a whole lot better.

(Every family has its own specific circumstances, so not all of this may apply to everyone.)

This is advice for children who are older and grown up and have divorced parents. These are the don’ts for the children old enough to know what’s going on.

  •           don’t manipulate– Making you parents compete for you is not going to make the situation any better.
  •           don’t take sides- This will get you in trouble. The divorce is between the parents. They’re adults, let them work it out.
  •           don’t allow brainwashing– One-sided stories almost never share all of the facts.
  •           don’t contribute to bad mouthing- Let your parents know you won’t tolerate it. Bad mouthing might cause psychological effects.
  •           don’t speak extremely about one parent to another. (Good or Bad)-  It’s okay to talk about the other parent. However, any complaint or an extreme compliment may just cause the parent to share their thoughts and opinions, which you may not like.

My mom and her three children

Things you must understand

  1.           Divorce is not uncommon. Nearly one half of children see their parents get divorced. You are not alone.
  2.           You still have two parents who have your best interest still in mind. Not everyone has that. A large number of children of divorce grow up without a father.
  3.           Chances are this is new territory for the parents too. It’s not easy on anyone.

And the one “Do”:

  • Be happy for them, whether they find someone else or are happy being alone.
  • What else can the children do to help?

Moving (On After Divorce)

Moving can be a pain and there many factors that go into choosing a new home for your family. Each family has its own circumstances, but divorce might create a situation where moving is the best thing for everyone involved.


Throughout my childhood, I moved many times, and attended four school districts. Each brought a different experience, and the decisions my parents made throughout the moving process helped my siblings and I adjust to the changes.

Here are some questions a parent might have when it’s time to make that move.

1. How far to move away from the other parent?

This really depends on the custody agreement. But from a kid’s point of view, a short drive between the two parents is a favorable situation. It is a key to making co-parenting work.

2. Moving in the summer vs Moving during the school year?

Moving can be a distraction, especially if you put that on top of a recent divorce, which is why it might be better to make the big move when school is not in session. That way, the children can focus on being students.

3. Staying in the same school district vs Moving to a new school district?

Moving away from friends is difficult for kids to deal with, so most likely they won’t be in favor of moving to a new school district. The timing of the move is definitely important if there will be a change in districts. The times I switched school districts as a child, I found it easiest when we moved during the summer and in the transition from middle school to high school.

IF there is a change in school districts, there are some things a parent can do to help with that change. Signing the kids up for summer school or summer camp will help them when September rolls around. It gives them time to make new friends and become familiar with the school before the school year actually starts. When the first day of school comes around, the kids will be somewhat familiar with their classmates and the school.

Why Divorce Can Be Healthy For The Kids

Divorce is an ugly word, but some families need it to move on and to create a healthier environment for the kids.


Here are some reasons why divorce could be good for children:

–         Two happy households

Granted, not every divorce ends up with two happy households. However, if both parents find someone else who they are happy with, the kid’s attitudes toward the divorce will increasingly get better and they will accept the situation.

Is it worth staying in an unhappy marriage for the children?

–         Coping with future life situations

My parents divorced when I was five years old, and I learned that there will be disagreements. A lot of the initial arguments will be about how to raise the kids properly. Kids of divorce deal with multiple environments, including different sets of rules depending on which house they are in. Not many life lessons are learned at five years old, but I am now 22 and I’ve been dealing with those different rules my whole life. A new marriage brings in a different set of rules, along with a new job and a new school. It’s a good thing to get used to.

–         Appreciation for each parent

You see how different two people really are from each other after divorce. At each house, kids will notice the differences in the quality of meals, the set of rules that are in place, and how much fun they have. Kids might appreciate their mom more because dad is a bad cook. But dad might relate more to the kids’ interest in sports. It’s only natural for them to start appreciating specific characteristics of each parent, and they might not take it for granted any more.

Five tips for a parent whose child chose the Ex:

–         Parents get along?

The question mark is very much needed in this title, because that phrase goes against the grain of what we typically believe. There are occasions, however, that the parents DO get along after the divorce. This is probably the best situation for the children. It is easier for kids to move through their childhood with few unnecessary distractions, than to have married parents who argue nonstop.

Louis CK on Divorce: