Families Change
Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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What are my child’s rights and responsibilities?

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Your kids might be afraid to talk about being worried. They may try to hide their feelings about your break up. You can help by talking to them about their rights and responsibilities. Talking about this will let them know that

  • it’s ok to talk about their feelings,
  • they can ask questions,
  • they can speak up if they are feeling stuck in the middle,
  • you love them, and
  • they will be taken care of, no matter what.

It is really important that your kids know these things. It is especially important that you tell them how much you love them.

Look at the Rights & Responsibilities in the kids’ guide and the teen guide before you talk to your children about this. This will help you get ready to talk to them.

Children of all ages have the right to

  • feel the way they feel about their parents splitting up,
  • express their feelings,
  • ask questions about what is going to happen and why,
  • love and be loved by both parents,
  • feel safe,
  • talk to someone if they need help,
  • not take sides,
  • not choose between parents,
  • not carry messages between their parents,
  • not hear their parents say bad things about each other,
  • not have to take care of a parent, and
  • not have adult worries.

Children have a responsibility to

  • express their feelings in a way that doesn’t hurt other people or things,
  • speak up if their parents are asking them to do things that don’t feel right, and
  • ask for help if they need it.

Your children’s rights are a lot like your responsibilities as a parent. This is because you, as an adult, can protect (or abuse) your children’s rights. For example, if you say bad things about the other parent in front of your child, you are ignoring your child’s right to not hear those things.

Knowing about all of these rights and responsibilities is a good first step. You might make mistakes along the way. That’s ok, just keeping trying!

You should read How do I stay focused on the important things? for information and tips about keeping your own feelings separate from your responsibilities as a parent.