The 10 Worst Mistakes Parents Make When Getting a Divorce

Divorce is hard on kids. This is not earth shattering news. But, kids are resilient. I have seen many kids thrive and adapt in my therapy practice. I have also seen kids plummet with no sign of resurfacing. Grades tank. Friends are lost. Interest in hobbies fall by the wayside. So why do some kids adapt and others suffer permanent damage?

Divorce doesn't turn kids into a dysfunctional mess - toxic parents do. Make sure you aren't making one of the 10 worst mistakes when parenting through divorce. Parents. It is all up to how toxic they want to make the situation. How much hostility dominates their thoughts and behavior. How much anger they let simmer inside of them. I have seen some wonderful parents do some ugly things. I have also seen some amazing kids turn into a dysfunctional mess because of it. Don’t let that happen to your kids.

Here are the 10 worst mistakes parents make when getting a divorce:

They have their kids relay messages between them and their ex.

Kids don’t need the drama. Keep grown up conversations between the grown-ups. If you don’t want to speak – email or text.

They fight over their kids’ clothes.

To the kids – they are all their clothes. Kids might want to wear their favorite jeans and don’t want to worry about if it is at one house or the other. Don’t make your kids feel guilty about which clothes land at which house. If it is a fiscal concern, take it up with your ex, not your child.

They have a custody arrangement where the kids have to change houses every few days.

Imagine how you would feel if you had to switch offices every other day. This is the #1 complaint I hear from kids. They don’t like being bounced back and forth. They finally get their beat at one house and they are on the move again. If it can be avoided – do less moving back and forth or do it in longer blocks of time.

They have their kids decide who they want to stay with and when.

Kids often tell me they feel guilty and burdened when parents ask them what they want. They are kids – don’t put the pressure on them to make grown-up decisions.

They talk bad about their ex to their kids.

Even if kids know how bad their parent is – they don’t need to hear it from the other parent. The only thing that comes out of bad mouthing your ex is a child who respects you less.

They grill their kids about what happens at the other house.

Two words. Just don’t.


They tell their kids their ex should be paying for their clothes, toys etc.

This may be the case, but your kids don’t need to hear it from you. Take it up with your ex.

They talk about court matters with their kids.

I can’t tell you how much stress this causes kids. Adult matters should be kept among the adults.

They tell their kids it is their ex’s fault they can’t buy them anything.

Perhaps this is true, but telling your child isn’t going to change things. It also inadvertently puts your kids in the middle.

They allow their kids to escape to the other house when they are having a conflict with them.

Unless this is for safety concerns, this should be avoided. You don’t want to teach your kids that when they are having conflict they can just escape and go somewhere else. It is important to work it out with your kids.


Divorce can be a difficult period in your life. But you have a choice whether you want to place that difficulty on your children as well. Do you have some other tips on what to avoid when going through a divorce?

Leave a comment and share with us. Do you know someone who could use this advice? Share this article with them!

For other divorce articles check out:

Parenting through divorce? Don't make these 5 common mistakes!        Going through a divorce can be a struggle. Learn some easy tips to help your young child get through the divorce. Parenting through divorce is tough - here is some tips to follow.

For children ages 4-12 get the at-home divorce workbook that they can do by themselves or with your help.


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5 responses to “The 10 Worst Mistakes Parents Make When Getting a Divorce”

  1. […] impact of major loss on a child, whether by death, divorce, or other family changes, creates a psychological wound that requires healing. Without healing, […]

  2. Laurie says:

    The things that I see most often during divorce is fighting in front of the children when they are dropping them off. Whether it be about child support, the custody arrangement, or general dislike that comes out in words. Kids don’t need to witness arguing or hear their parents calling each other bad names. Great list of divorce mistakes, thanks for sharing!

  3. It is smart to keep certain things only between you and the court. You don’t need to involve your child in everything. That would just worry them even more. But, it is also good to talk with them and keep them up to date. That way, they don’t worry about anything, and they know what is going on.

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