In my blog I try to focus on educating potential clients and the general public about the different ways they can choose to approach their Divorce or Child Custody issue often encouraging them to work towards resolving their cases outside of court. A new book, “Putting Kids First in Divorce: How to Reduce Conflict, Preserve Relationships and Protect Children During and After Divorce” (link to Amazon Kindle version) brings together a number of professionals who have seen the damage that is done by the winner-take-all approach of litigation and who want to help people learn the damage they do to their children by treating the other parent as the enemy and regularly attacking them. Below is my review that was also posted on Amazon, which I think helps explain why this book is something I plan to recommend to my clients regularly going forward.
The book starts with a discussion of how the way you approach your divorce can have a big impact in the outcome. While I would make a lot more money if I litigated cases constantly, I treat litigation as a last resort. To me the majority of couples are able to come to agreements regarding their divorce if they have a mediator involved or sometimes just attorneys on both sides of the case who are geared towards settlement and not so much towards maximizing the payout for the client.
Parents who have already decided to approach their divorce through mediation may choose to skip to chapter 3 but the first two chapters can still serve as a helpful reminder of why they are focused on a resolution outside of court. The book then moves into the psychology of co-parenting and the various ways that the approach taken by parents can significantly impact the amount of harm that children experience in the process. I quite like how the various mediators and other professionals interviewed in the book discuss that they no longer believe that it is as simple as saying that every divorce harms children, but that sometimes a careful approach to the process can make it so positive that it is better than subjecting the children to parents who fight all the time. Many of the professionals interviewed in the book consider this alternative approach to involve a mediator or a divorce coach. I often refer my clients to mediators and I think this is usually a good step when children are involved. The chapters feel like reading the transcript from a podcast, which I like because it maintains that personal feel.
Later chapters address a number practical tips. Suggestions range from the big picture approach to the the divorce process to the boundaries that are important between the two parents and the things you should and shouldn’t say to your children through the process. Each of these has examples so that can be immediately applied. Some chapters explain just how you might speak to the children about what led to the breakdown of the relationship without sharing adult issues with them. Overall, one theme I see in all the chapters is the importance of recognizing that once you are going through divorce it is not appropriate to attack the other parent but that providing the most positive environment for the children is your highest priority. Chapter 8 makes a great handbook for discussing big issues with your children while keeping everything positive.
I also appreciate Chapter 9’s inclusion and the recognition that some people reading this book may be considering divorce but not yet so fully decided that they have given up all hope. Though some of the tips provided in Chapter 9 may not be able to help a couple that is beyond repair, reading through those ideas can help increase the chances of the next relationship avoiding the same pitfalls.
I have already recommended the book to one of my clients and I expect I will regularly continue to do so going forward as I work with clients who have children. Even those who enter into the divorce with the best of intentions may not be aware of the damage they can do by off-the-cuff remarks or subtle suggestions that they still blame the other parent for all of the problems. When my clients are long since done with my services I want them to have the tools to address the day-to-day challenges that come with co-parenting and this book provides that in abundance.