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WHEN PARENTS PART by Penelope Leach


How Mothers and Fathers Can Help Their Children Deal with Separation and Divorce

by Penelope Leach

Pub Date: May 13th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-101-87404-2
Publisher: Knopf

A guide to managing the fallout for children when parents choose to separate and divorce.

British research psychologist Leach (The Essential First Year, 2010, etc.) has an impressive list of credentials in the child development sphere. In addition to countless other designations, she is a fellow of the British Psychological Society and president and chair of the Child Development Society, and she has been a member of the curriculum board of Sesame Street. Suffice to say that she has the wide range of experience that justifies the label of “expert,” which makes this new book, on supporting children through parents’ separation and divorce, an important read for anyone interested in how to successfully navigate that rocky situation. Early on, the author notes that, were divorce a physical disease, the level of occurrence in the United States would warrant emergency research into vaccines and immunizations. Leach thoughtfully structures the book, beginning with a breakdown of how children perceive, and are affected by, their parents’ separation at various ages, from baby to young adult. This structure allows the parents to jump right in and begin finding answers. Other, less-immediate family members receive the same consideration, and Leach provides an overview of legal and practical considerations before turning to the second part of the book, “Separating Better—or Worse.” The author makes sure to maintain a child-centered approach, and she explores how to reinforce that approach in the face of alienation, partner conflict, and the processes of making a parenting plan and putting it into action. She also explores post-divorce difficulties and the constantly changing dynamics between parents and their children.

Leach strikes the right balance between a hard-nosed examination of the data and a compassionate, let’s-make-this-work pragmatism. This will allow parents to shore up their children’s stability when it may feel like everything else is crumbling down.