Although there is no book of parenting rules, particularly when parenting through a divorce, there are some guidelines, a child’s ‘bill of rights’ that can help parents focus on the needs of their child(ren).
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1. Children should have the right to develop safe, healthy, loving, meaningful relationships with each parent.
2. Children should retain the right to have contact with extended family (grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins).
3. Children should be protectedfrom hearing negative comments about either parent from any source, but particularly from parents, extended family, and family friends.
4. Children should be free from having to choose sides or demonstrate allegiances to one parent over the other.
5. Children should be free from being asked or expected to act as messengers, negotiators, diplomats, or spies.
6. Children have the right to have parents who are emotionally healthy and who can provide emotional support to them; they should not be expected to become the primary emotional support for either parent.
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7. Children should be allowed to be children. While they may be asked to take on more responsibilities, they should not feel the burden of taking the place of the other parent.
8. Children have the right to know, and to be told explicitly, that the divorce was not their fault, that they could not have prevented it, and that nothing they do now can “fix” it.
By honoring these rights, you increase the likelihood that your child will be buffered from the potential negative consequences that can come with the family transitions of separation and divorce.