Separation and divorce are hard on everyone involved.  At a time when parents are themselves taxed, their child’s needs increase, and it is difficult not to get bogged down in the stress.  Here are 7 reminders from a child’s perspective about what is important to them.

  • I want to be loyal, at some level, to both parents.
  • It’s incredibly hard to be equally loyal to both parents, especially when they are separated.  If I try to do this, it will take a huge chunk of my mental and physical energy.  If I don’t do this, it will hurt my heart because it feels like I am rejecting one parent (and therefore rejecting a bit of myself, too.)
  • When you speak negatively of my other parent (or even just roll your eyes) it’s hard on me.  I know that half of me comes from each parent—so if one parent is a jerk or a loser or crazy—that means I am, too.  It makes me feel badly about myself.
  • Some of my behaviors are related to the separation/divorce.  I may act angrier, more anxious, more sad, more clingy, or more rejecting.
  • If I have a lot of somatic/physical complaints (headaches, stomach aches) it may be that I am feeling worried or unhappy.
  • With time, I can heal from the separation and/or divorce if you handle yourselves with respect, cooperation, and good boundaries.  When disrespect and anger are present, it is tremendously harder for me to be healthy.
  • I feel safer and happier when the two of you are friendly and cooperative with each other.

Updated 2021.  Originally posted 2012.