Most divorcing parents believe they’re doing the best they can to help their kids transition to their new “normal.” However, too often, it’s easy for parents to get caught up in their own feelings towards their co-parent and neglect to realize that they aren’t doing what’s best for their kids. One way for parents to stay focused on what’s in their children’s best interests is to recognize that they have fundamental rights.

First, children deserve the right to enjoy their childhood. They shouldn’t be burdened by their parents’ conflicts or unhappiness. They also have the right not to be a surrogate therapist for a parent. That’s what family, friends and psychologists are for.

Kids should never be asked to take messages from one parent to another. Co-parents need to find a way to communicate with each other about their kids in a healthy manner without involving their kids.

Next, children have the right to have a close, loving relationship with both parents and with family members on both sides. You shouldn’t do anything to interfere with your child’s designated time with your co-parent or that person’s family. Kids should never be asked to choose who they want to spend time with or be asked whose home they prefer.

Children have the right to maintain a life that’s as close as possible to what they had when their parents were together. Obviously, some things will change. They may have to move to a new neighborhood or a different city, go to a new school and make new friends. They may not see one parent as much as they’d like. However, both parents should work to keep these changes to a minimum.

If significant changes are necessary, take the time to discuss them with your kids and help them prepare. Don’t just spring the changes on them. Don’t blame your ex for the changes, even if you do.

Finally, children have a right to their feelings. They should be able to share them with you without believing that they’re adding to your burdens. If your kids are feeling fearful or guilty, reassurance is necessary.

If they seem overwhelmed by the changes or are acting out in a troubling manner, you may want to consider seeking therapy for them. Your Arizona family law attorney can likely provide recommendations for professionals in your area.

Source: Our Family Wizard, “8 Rights Every Child Deserves After a Divorce,” accessed April 20, 2018