30 Things That Children of Divorce Wish Their Parents Knew

Flickr user Big Ben in Japan

When you ask a child in the midst of a divorce how they feel, they'll often clam up. But if you ask adults who grew up in split households about their childhoods, they usually have a lot to say. I posed the question "what do you wish your parents had known, but you'd never tell them?" to a group of my peers (all grown-up children of divorce) and received plenty of impassioned responses.

At the core of every response was "we love you no matter what." Despite the tough times that come with divorce, family is the most important part of any childhood; a split home just means doing things a little differently. Read on to see what real children of divorce wish their parents knew, because let's face it: they're probably not going to tell you.

Flickr user ybs

  1. No matter what happens, we love you the same.
  2. We hate packing a bag to go between houses.
  3. Not every bump in the road is a result of the divorce, so stop blaming yourself for everything.
  4. Please don't overshare; we don't need to know every grimy detail of what our parents are fighting about, especially when we're old enough to understand what it all means.
  5. We're protective of you with new significant others. If they're worth it, we'll warm up.
  6. We want you to fight to see us . . . every other weekend isn't enough, and it hurts if you don't seem to care.
  7. When you try to "buy" our love with trips and gifts or to one-up the other parent, it makes us feel uncomfortable.
  8. . . . but don't worry, we really like having two Christmases!
  9. When we're at your house, we're going to miss our other parent. It's not because you're not good enough; we just love you both.
  10. Stop trying to get information out of us about your ex. They're not our enemy, and we're not your middleman. It's not fair to put us in that position.
Flickr user Sherif Salama

  1. We can tell when you're deferring to the other parent for unpleasant decisions, and we'd rather just have a straight answer.
  2. Please answer your phone when we're not at your house; it's already hard enough being apart.
  3. We know that single parenting isn't easy — you don't have to do it all. You're allowed to have bad days.
  4. Nobody wants to grow up in an "us vs. them" situation, so please do your best to make ours a "we" situation. You don't have to be married to be a team.
  5. Your kids are not your therapists. Please seek out professional help or rely on one of your close friends for comfort, because we won't know what to do.
  6. To make the transition easier on us, take dating slow and don't introduce us to people that you're not serious about.
  7. We still want both of you at our sports games and school events, even if it's not "your week."
  8. Your unhappiness with one another rubs off on us.
  9. Please don't scream and fight in front of us. The whole point of your divorce was to avoid all of that nastiness.
  10. We know that your divorce happened for a reason, but that doesn't mean we want to know what that reason is.
Flickr user Heather Williams

  1. We know when your "friend" isn't just a friend.
  2. We hate seeing you cry. We want to make it all better, but we can't.
  3. The moments we have with you are precious — please don't waste them being bitter.
  4. When you work together and are civil toward one another, we know it isn't easy. Thank you for trying so hard for us.
  5. Don't use us as ammunition in your arguments, especially to hurt one another. It puts us in an unfair position and makes us feel responsible.
  6. After the divorce, we are upset in a totally different way than you are . . . try to be understanding when we act out or say mean things.
  7. We can tell when you're faking it.
  8. Please don't make us choose between you.
  9. Don't make us feel guilty for enjoying our time with the other parent. It doesn't mean we love you less . . . it means that we're not miserable. Isn't that a good thing?
  10. Your divorce doesn't make us love you any less.