Book Re­views: Di­vorce, How to tell the Kids / Sleepy Magic / Man­ag­ing Fam­ily Law Dis­putes

Lift Magazine - - Contents - how­


Telling our five year old daugh­ter about our im­pend­ing sep­a­ra­tion was by far one of the most heart­break­ing mo­ments of the early days of my sep­a­ra­tion. Telling her sud­denly made it all feel very real. De­spite my own per­sonal shock and grief at un­cov­er­ing my hus­band’s ex­tra-mar­i­tal af­fair, it was al­most as painful hear­ing my child beg me to ‘not send her daddy away’. While I can’t undo that ini­tial ‘telling’, there have been count­less con­ver­sa­tions since that day that I have had to talk to her and her younger sis­ter about their par­ents’ di­vorce and this book presents some im­por­tant ideas about how to do this in a way that re­duces the risk of trauma to the chil­dren and helps them tran­si­tion more smoothly through the process.


The au­thor, Vikki Stark, is a long tenured fam­ily ther­a­pist spe­cial­is­ing in di­vorce re­cov­ery. She presents a seven step process for pre­par­ing and then hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with your child .

Many peo­ple be­lieve that hav­ing di­vorced par­ents is al­ways de­struc­tive for chil­dren,

how­ever Stark chal­lenges this con­cept and be­lieves that its not usu­ally the mere fact of di­vorce that causes the great­est harm. Rather, it’s the on­go­ing con­flict that does the most dam­age.

Stark pro­vides prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions on when, how and what to say to your chil­dren and also ex­plores more com­plex and del­i­cate de­tails like deal­ing with af­fairs and how to an­swer ques­tions about which par­ent is to blame for the di­vorce. She pro­vides sim­ple ad­vice on how to de­velop age ap­pro­pri­ate an­swers and how to be hon­est and au­then­tic with­out over bur­den­ing chil­dren.

Each chap­ter is pep­pered with di­rect quotes from chil­dren who have been in­ter­viewed as well as sug­gested script­ing ideas and take away ques­tions for the reader to an­swer to as­sist them in pre­par­ing for their own con­ver­sa­tion.

The quotes from the chil­dren in­ter­viewed pro­vide a way for par­ents to con­sider how their own chil­dren will feel and think.

Stark chal­lenges par­ents to rise above their own emo­tions and com­mu­ni­cate with their chil­dren in a way that meets their needs, which can be par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing when a par­ent is feel­ing be­trayed or aban­doned.

She re­minds par­ents that de­spite the pain and hurt of deal­ing with di­vorce, their job is to help pre­serve the re­la­tion­ship their child has with both of their par­ents and sees this as crit­i­cal for the long term emo­tional health and well­be­ing of the child.


The book took me around three hours to read cover to cover. It fol­lows an easy to fol­low chap­ter for­mat, and can be quickly picked up and re­ferred back to the rel­e­vant sec­tion when needed.


Yes, I thought it was a re­ally prac­ti­cal and sen­si­ble guide to plan­ning and then un­der­tak­ing this crit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion with your child. The au­thor ap­pre­ci­ates that the cir­cum­stances can vary from fam­ily to fam­ily and pro­vides ad­vice on how to tai­lor your ap­proach based on the age and per­son­al­ity of the chil­dren, the level of con­flict in the home prior to sep­a­ra­tion and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two sep­a­rat­ing par­ents. And while grounded in ev­i­dence and re­search, it is far from clin­i­cal with the au­thor tak­ing an em­pathic ap­proach with the reader and of­fer­ing di­rect en­cour­age­ment, op­ti­mism for the fu­ture and pos­i­tiv­ity by urg­ing par­ents to be their ‘best selves’ dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time for the sake of their chil­dren.

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