Book Reviews: Divorce, How to tell the Kids / Sleepy Magic / Managing Family Law Disputes
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS BOOK?
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.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
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.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO READ?
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.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT?
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.