A review of ''The Divorce Helpbook For Kids'' by Cynthia MacGregor.
The The Divorce Helpbook For Kids was written to help children cope with divorce-related feelings that come up after the divorce. Ms. MacGregor's writing style is clear and uncluttered, if a bit simplistic. Several of the chapters have good information and strategies to help your children understand and deal with the issues of separation, adjustment to lifestyle changes, and the feelings of guilt and uncertainty that most children have when their parents' divorce.
First, the good news: The Divorce Helpbook For Kids is written in a friendly, sympathetic tone, and should be easy to share with or read to your child. Several chapters provide practical answers to typical questions and concerns that your child will have. Chapter 2, "Why Can't My Parents Stay Married?" stresses that the divorce is not the fault of the child and that he or she isn't to blame for the breakup. This is an extremely common fear that children have when their parents divorce, and Ms. MacGregor handles the subject in a fairly even-handed manner.
Chapter 4, "Dealing With Feelings" discusses the thoughts and emotions your child is likely to have, and gives common-sense answers along with ways to minimize the emotional upsets that children experience during a divorce.
Chapter 5, "A Lot Of Questions About Divorce...With Answers" provides straight talk and cover a multitude of the questions children have. Oftentimes children are too upset or scared by the divorce to ask these questions. The Divorce Helpbook For Kids can assist you in gently broaching these subjects and working through them in a non-threatening manner. Several of the other chapters are written in a similar vein.
The bad news: To put it bluntly, The Divorce Helpbook For Kids is woefully out of touch with reality in a few areas, or else it glosses over real-life possibilities with either an offhand comment or 'sugarcoating'.
One example of this is in Chapter 3, "What's Going To Happen Now?", where this question is posed (presumably by the child): If I live with my mom, will I ever see my dad again? The answer given is: "Of course! You'll probably see your dad a lot!"
This answer is naive at best, and downright misleading at worst. Denial and/or obstruction of the father's visitation or parenting time is a frequent occurrence in the majority of divorces. To fathers who have been unfairly denied parenting time, this casual answer is nothing less than a slap in the face.
A number of other areas give short shrift to fathers, most notably in any mention of the father having custody. Ms. MacGregor glosses over the fact that 85 to 90 percent of custody determinations go to the mother. No mention is made that the father might be the better parent to award custody to, and the tone throughout the book clearly reflects the classic bias for mother-custody that is so prevalent in family and domestic courts.
All in all, The Divorce Helpbook For Kids contains useful techniques to encourage a positive dialog with children, and provides ways to help alleviate some of the fears children normally have in divorce situations. We'd be much more enthusiastic about this book if it dropped some of the sugarcoating and the offhand dismissal of the very real problems (such as visitation denial) that children are likely to encounter in their post-divorce world.
Based on price (reasonable) as well as content (generally useful), we rate The Divorce Helpbook For Kids as a 3-star resource (on a scale of 1 to 5).