Kids of Divorce Give Thanks | Nashville Christian Family magazine - November 2023

Working with kids and families impacted by divorce has been the sole focus of my career for the last twenty years; it has been a sacred honor to sit with children and be a safe place to listen to their stories. Some children have really “big questions” that they can’t seem to get an answer to. Some children only get to see part of their family on a regular basis due to geographical distance, deployment or other challenges that make it impossible to enjoy both parents. Some kids live within a few miles of each biological parent. Some kids have stepparents, and some do not. Over all these years I can share some common narratives of their hearts when it comes to having divorced parents:

  • Kids appreciate when their mom and dad can “get along” and function like friends (we recognize that most divorced co-parents are not actually friends; however, when the opportunity arises to be cordial and polite it really is important to their shared children).
  • Kids appreciate not having to pick a “favorite parent” or favorite side of their family
  • Kids are grateful to have the “emotional permission” to love everyone in their expanded family
  • Kids don’t want to be the messenger and they are grateful when mom and dad don’t put them in the middle.
  • Kids are very grateful when they play sports, or perform music or are being honored at school, if they can have all the adults and siblings that represent their family be there and not cause any stress or awkward moments when everyone is there… (many kids I work with feel really worried about who to “hug first” when they come off the court or off the stage because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings). A great way to be intentional with this is always encourage your child to go and speak to the other parent and use an upbeat and positive tone of voice. This allows them a chance to connect with everyone who attended the event and not feel so stressed about who to talk to first.
  • Kids are very grateful when their divorced parents create a “happy handoff” instead of making their transitions between mom’s house and dad’s house a difficult experience. Kids often tell me that it is hard to leave each parent and they just wish everyone could live together again. There are 3 important things to remember at a handoff: facial expression, tone of voice and body language. These 3 things will either help the shared child have a happy handoff or a hard and sometimes hurtful handoff. **Most kids will experience over 400-500 handoffs in their childhood when mom and dad are divorced. It is critical to make these transitions as easy on the children as possible, both emotionally and logistically.
  • Kids love both parents and they never asked to be in a divided childhood. They are grateful to be loved and supported by both of their parents and to know that they have not just one home, but two amazing homes to enjoy and grow as they continue toward young adulthood.

As you celebrate this Thanksgiving, may you give thanks for the single parents and stepparents in your life, your church and your community and may we all be intentional to help the children that are being raised between two homes. There is HOPE!!

Tammy Daughtry, Founder of Coparenting International / For more information and co-parent classes for parents, see

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