Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dinosaurs Divorce, Too

Prominent Michigan family law attorney Carole L. Chiamp, who is of counsel to our firm, is a family law court-approved mediator. She is among the first attorneys in Michigan to obtain this designation. She currently authors a monthly article in the Michigan Family Law Journal entitled "Mediation Matters."

For the past school year, I have been involved in the Detroit Public School Volunteer Reading Program two hours a week which I highly recommend to anyone in need of fun. Four year olds can be hilarious, especially in short doses. Reading books to the kids made me think of how they can sometimes be overlooked in divorce mediation.

Divorce mediation focuses on resolving all issues, including parenting issues. Of course, mediators keep the best interests of the children in mind, too. Most parents discuss the divorce with their children but there cannot be too many ways to try to have children understand divorce. A book can be a wonderful tool.

There are plenty of books on the market to help children. Providing a book list to parents is helpful and a short explanation of the contents of one or two of the books can serve as an icebreaker and even interject humor into the subject of divorce. Having a few of the books in the office for parents to peruse while waiting also can’t hurt.

Here’s a short list to get started:

1. Dinosaurs Divorce, a Guide for Changing Families, Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (1988).

My personal favorite, this book describes divorce
words, visiting a parent, having two homes, meeting parents’ new friends, living with stepparents and step siblings1.

2. Sending Love, My “Different-Functional” Family (A Children’s Book About Divorce), Lori Hilliand (2009).

Joshua, a five year old, tells us all about himself and his family. He likes to play in the dirt, has a dog and cat, two sisters and a brother. He also has two houses, mom’s and dad’s. His parents are divorced. He is loved and his family isn’t dysfunctional, its “different-functional.” The book is illustrated with real life photos of Joshua and has a series of pages where children can insert photos of their own families2.

3. Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce, Tamara Schmitz (2008).

This book stresses the fact that divorce is not the fault of children and they are still loved by both parents3.

4. The Divorce Helpbook For Kids, Cynthia MacGregor (2002).

Includes things that are different at home now; why can’t my parents stay married; dealing with feelings. There are a lot of questions about divorce with answers. It covers visiting your parents, parents are human too and what all the big words mean4.

5. My Parents are Getting Divorced: How to Keep It Together when Your Mom and Dad are Splitting Up, Florence Cadier Sunscreen (2004).

This book discusses how divorce is a weird atmosphere for kids, growing up is hard to do, the divorce, no fault, don’t I get a say, what happens now, what if my parents aren’t married, child support, who can I count on, I am not a mailman, a new nest, pain and hurt, the new partner, getting to know you, new experiences, future family ties5.

6. Surviving Divorce: Teens Talk About What Hurts and What Helps, Trudy Strain Trueit, (2007).

This book discusses individual struggles, coming undone, the divorce, the sea of emotion, a survival guide, how to release stress in healthy ways, accept that the divorce is out of your hands, tips6.

7. Divorce is Not the End of the World, Zoe and Evan Stern (2008).

Discusses why did this have to happen, maybe they’ll get back together, stop trying to make me feel better, where’s my stuff, nobody asked my opinion, quit putting me in the middle, who’s in charge, where I’d rather live, you’re not my father/mother, I don’t want another sister, is there any such thing as a happy marriage, rewards7.

8. Separations, Janice Amos (2002). This book uses summaries, stories and information text to provide advice for children on how to cope with their parents’ divorce8.

Many of the listed books are available for as little as a few cents on Amazon, the internet bookseller and other cites. So if you find one or more that you like, you can buy them and give them away. Some publishers also provide group rates which enure to the benefit of attorneys who can provide them to prospective clients with children or to just leave in the waiting room in the hope one or two will “disappear."

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