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What About the Kids?: Raising Your Children Before, During, and After Divorce Hardcover – March 12, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The founder and executive director for the Center for the Family in Transition, Wallerstein taught at UC Berkeley for more than 25 years, but is best known as the author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, which taught adult children of divorce how to recognize reactive divorce-based behavior patterns. Here with New York Times science writer Blakeslee, Wallerstein explicitly hopes to complement Dr. Spock and Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s child rearing how-tos by showing parents how to guide children through the dissolution of a marriage. She does an excellent job. After a chapter that advises parents to get their own heads straight before dealing with the kids ("I wish I could tell you that it’s ok to lie down and pull the covers over your head, but that’s not possible"), Wallerstein addresses the developmental problems that infants and toddlers might face and ways of easing them into differing options for care. She’s forthright in talking about the reactions of older children ("Teenagers can be excellent manipulators. All of them do it, but children of divorce have much more to work with"), and talks about their needs with empathy, insight and rigor, but never loses sight of what parents need and feel, too. Chapters cover "The Breakup," "Parent to Parent" advice on custody and avoiding disputes, "The Post-Divorce Family," "Second Marriage" and "Conversations for a Lifetime," or talks that help kids not to be afraid of love and commitment. Addressing everything from parent-to-parent blame to the many forms of child-to-parent resentment, Wallerstein offers firm honesty and supportive encouragement. Divorcing parents will be grateful for it, and a confirmed Today show appearance and satellite TV tour should help spread the word.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Wallerstein, author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (2000), and Blakeslee, a science writer, draw on more than 30 years of research to provide advice and assistance to parents who are either facing divorce or coping with its aftermath. First they define the major challenges: getting the parent's life under control, preparing children for the breakup, and creating new relationships with the ex-partner. They emphasize that divorce is not a single event but a process with many stages. The book is organized around the steps of a divorce and its aftermath: the immediate breakup of the family, when reactions are at their rawest and most emotional; the first few years, when the new family routine is being established; a period of assessment 5 or 10 years after the breakup; the reconstituted family after remarriage; and communicating with children in young adulthood to help them develop and sustain strong relationships. The authors offer advice that runs the gamut, from answering questions children ask about divorce to choosing the best custody arrangement. This is a very valuable resource for families at any stage of breakup. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1 edition (March 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786868651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786868650
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By VINE VOICE on May 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As an adult whose parents divorced when I was about five years old, I can only imagine what my mother and father went through during that time. As a young child, I was too concerned with my own life and routines to even wonder how the divorce affected them. I do know that I had a very happy childhood, and I don't remember my routines being too disrupted.
My parents were among the millions of men and women who have decided on divorce. The process of divorce can be complicated as it is. But if there are children in the family, divorce can be a very traumatic experience for all involved. If divorce is not easy for the adults, why would it be any easier for the children?
In the book, "What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During, and After Divorce," by Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, divorce is looked at as being new beginning, since everyone's lives will be different from that point on. How can parents protect themselves from being any less of the parent they were before the divorce? How do parents explain their divorce to their children, and how can they protect their children during each stage of their new lives? This book contains these answers and much more. Parents who are going through or have already gone through a divorce will learn the best way to take care of themselves, their children, and how to handle many of life's situations as a divorced parent.
MyParenTime highly recommends this book -- it is easy-to-read and is written in a non-discriminating tone. It provides helpful information to parents who are going through a difficult time in their lives. It also focuses on the children at different stages in their lives -- because parents are not the only ones whose lives will be changed forever.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was the most helpful book I read on divorce and its impact on the kids. I have kids of different ages and there was VERY helpful information for each one of them. I would have been lost without this book. Besides the author has done research on kids of divorce for 25 years and really understands the long term effects of divorce on kids -- at every age.
Read the excerpt in the "look inside" section.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on April 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When it comes to the children (including adults) of divorce parents, Judith S. Wallerstein is considered the self-help guru based on the insightful THE UNEXPECTED LEGACY OF DIVORCE. Her newest effort to help families is a discerning collaboration with Sandra Blakeslee that provides a how to guide book to assist divorcing or divorced parents with helping their children survive the break up of the marriage.
The authors insist that the former spouses must straighten themselves out rather quickly so that they can be there for the children (think airline oxygen mask instructions). Infants and toddlers need immediate assistance while adapting to changes in care and nurturing. Preadolescents require empathy and the knowledge the parents will be there as they struggle with the emotional bombs of change. Teens will manipulate the guilt of the parents better than Machiavelli so provide empathy and understanding, but also remember the parent has feelings too. Even adults have issues that their splitting parents must not ignore. Other topics provide insight into the before during, after, and second marriages with a thorough index to further assist the reader.
This is a well-written complete guidebook encouraging the divorcees that with integrity they can handle the grenades their resentful, often angry children and perhaps their former partner toss at them.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ann Douglas on September 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee choose to cover a much wider timeline within the life of the divorcing family than most divorce books have traditionally done. And, unlike other divorce books that serve up a lot of reassuring words, but not a lot of day-to-day strategies for dealing with the fallout of marital breakdown when you're doing frontline duty in the parenting trenches, What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During and After Divorce spells out the very messages that kids need to hear at each stage of the marital breakdown and at each point in their own development in order to feel safe and secure.

Wallerstein and Blakeslee have adopted the same warm and highly personal style that so engaged the readers of their previous books (most notably The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts). They have a real knack for zeroing in on the emotions that a parent is likely to be experiencing at any given point on the sometimes rocky path between marriage and divorce. In fact, they use the journey motif in the introduction of the book when they talk about how marital breakdown intensifies the challenges of parenting: "Parenting is always a hazardous undertaking. Much of the time it's like climbing a mountain trail that disappears and reappears, making you wonder if you're still headed for the top or if you're stranded on a cliff. But parenting in a divorced or remarried family is harder still -- it's like climbing that same trail in a blizzard, blinded by emotions and events out of your control. You have no clear path, no idea of where you're going. You may not even realize that you're lost."

If it's starting to sound like getting a divorce is life-long work, you've got that right, insists Wallerstein: "Since you have children, you're yoked until they're grown.
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