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My Daughter Thinks Her Dad and I Should Divorce

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: Do you think a 12 year old can really see that a divorce would be the best thing? My daughter said out of the clear blue sky "Mom are you and dad getting a divorce? I would not be to hurt because I think you both would be much happier".

Our marriage has been over for a long while...we were only here for her..

A: Kids observe much more than we give them credit for, even when we think we're keeping a lid on our marital problems. A 12 year old can certainly come to the very well thought out conclusion that you, your husband and she would be better off if you got divorced. Her suggesting that you and her dad would be "much happier" if you divorced is her attempt to tell you that she'll be OK if you do divorce and that she doesn't want you to stay together because of her. My guess is that she doesn't want to continue to live with parents who are hopelessly locked in a loveless, damaging marriage.

Please use her comments as an opening to talk to her about her thoughts and feelings regarding her family life. Ask her open-ended questions ("What are you worried about the most when it comes to our family?) and do a lot more listening than talking. She deserves the best chance at a happier home life and so do the both of you. Isn't it time you sought professional therapy to address what's best for all of you? Maybe you needed these brave, thoughtful words of your daughter to do what's been needed for some time.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


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