In healthy families following divorce, parents focus on meeting the needs of the children, both physically and emotionally. Children are not there to meet the needs of their parents. The following list includes seven common behaviors of post-divorce families with healthy children. What’s the first clue? Parents are parenting and children are allowed to be children.

  1. Children are able to form their own opinions about their parents and step-parents. Neither parent disparages or blames the other parent.
  2. Children are encouraged to talk about what they are feeling without anyone suggesting that what they are feeling is wrong. Expressions of anger, hurt, loneliness, fears, and tears are all okay and do not generate defensiveness.
  3. Parents handle scheduling for the children. They resolve scheduling conflicts out of earshot of the children, without involving the children or putting them in the middle.
  4. Parents affirm regularly, out loud, that they are glad that the children are their children, that they think the children are special, that they like spending time with the children, and that they love them.
  5. Parents maintain good boundaries between their own adult concerns and things that are appropriate to share with their children. A parent’s stress and conflict do not typically need to be shared with the children. Children will take on more responsibility than is appropriate if they are included in adult matters.
  6. Children are given responsibility, as appropriate, to resolve things for themselves. Parents avoid trying to do everything for their children.
  7. Parents keep a sense of humor.