The 10 commandments for separated parents PDF Print E-mail


The Ten Commandments for separated or divorced parents

  1. You will recognize the child’s right to a positive relationship with both parents, and will not badmouth the other parent in the child’s hearing. You will not make remarks or facial expressions that suggest that the other parent is not a worthwhile person.
  2. If you have been left by your partner, you will recognize that your partner wants out of the relationship with you – not the relationship with the children.
  3. You will not become so wrapped up in your own misery that you neglect the child’s care. You will maintain routines that are familiar to the child; you will not neglect your child; and you will pay attention to the child’s grief about their losses.
  4. You will maintain good health practices and support systems for yourself so that you can be the best parent you can be.
  5. You will not complain to the child about financial arrangements between yourselves, and you will not try and use money or material goods to “win over” the child or make up for emotional neglect.
  6. You will keep the child informed of decisions that affect him or her. Therefore, you will not suddenly leave the family home one day (unless there are issues of safety involved) without explaining to the child that you are going to separate from the other parent and how the visitation is going to work. You will reassure the child that you will do your best to support the child’s relationship with the other parent, and you will always be committed to your own relationship with the child. If you decide to re-partner, the child has a right to know in advance and be told exactly how this will affect him or her.
  7. You will not share your distress with your child – remember who the parent is in this relationship – so you will talk to other adults about your rage or distress, not the child. A child has other life tasks to deal with rather than being your friend or confidante.
  8. You will maintain good limits and boundaries around the children’s behavior. Just because you don’t see the children all the time doesn’t mean that you should be “softer” than the parent with whom they spend most of their time. Equally, just because you have the care of the children the majority of the time doesn’t mean that you should be “stricter”.
  9. You will not use a child to send messages to the other parent or to spy on the other parent, and will not ask questions about the other parents’ activities or relationships.
  10. You will make sure that the handover times, when a child is delivered from one parent to the other, are conflict-free. If that is impossible, you will find a more neutral way for these handovers to occur.