All children are beneficiaries and victims of choices their parents make because a mixed performance is the best that parents can give – a mix of strength and frailty, of wellness and illness, of wisdom and stupidity, of consideration and selfishness. In consequence, children develop partly because of and partly in spite of how their parents choose to act.

In the case of parental divorce, children are more victims than beneficiary of this decision. Now children must continue to grow up in light of and in spite of a choice by parents that forever alters children’s lives. Now children are left to answer many troubling questions that divorce creates.

*How can parents commit to get married and then choose not to stay married?

*If the commitment of marriage is made to be broken, then what commitments can you trust?

*If parents can lose their love for each other, can they also lose their love for their children?

*If one parent can leave the family, can the other parent leave too?

*If love is not forever, then for how long is love?

Divorce is a life-changing event. It violates children’s basic sense of trust because it breaks two contractual commitments they took for granted – that their parents would always stay together for the sake of the marriage and for the sake of the family they have created. So for many children, divorce represents a multiple loss – of love between parents, of faith in love’s enduring commitment, and of trust in parents who now put self-interest before family responsibility.

Although not meaning to, when parents divorce each other, they also divorce their children. Divorce may feel necessary or right for parents, but it usually feels wrong for children who to some degree feel anxious, injured, betrayed, abandoned, and rejected. Where the parent or parents wanting the divorce see a prospect for life improvement, children only experience a broken promise, family dislocation, an uncertain future, and personal loss.

But divorce is a surgical strike at the family. It cuts that unit apart. One household is divided into two. For the children, there is permanent parental separation where living with one parent precludes living with the other at the same time. "When I’m with one, I miss the other, and I can never have them both together again!" For the divorced mother or father, there is a new sense of solitude. Becoming a single parent means he or she no longer has a partner with whom to share child-care understanding, work, and responsibility. "I’m on my own, I have to go it alone."

This book addresses the emotional impact and the adjustment demands on single parents and children in the wake of divorce. It describes some of the emotional impact and adjustment demands created for children when parents divorce. It describes common role and responsibility changes that are part of becoming a single parent. And it describes the transition from single household to dual-household family living and what it takes to make this new arrangement work for children.

Traumatic as parental divorce can sometimes be, it rarely "ruins" a child’s life in the long term. Certainly it can mark that life and it can hurt a lot, but the pain is passing, not permanent. It is an influential part of the child’s history, but it is not all of the child’s history. There are far worse adversities (like deprivation, neglect, violence, catastrophic events, or death of a parent) that a child can suffer. Most children are resilient enough to weather parental divorce and grow on with their lives.