• Book Review: Putting Children First by JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, PhD

    by Dr. Wolfe

    I have a lot of parents who ask me for recommendations on books to read on how to best help their children while they are going through a divorce. Before now, I didn’t have one I could wholeheartedly recommend. I’ve probably read at least 6 or 7 books that I was just not that impressed with. I’m excited to say that I finally found one that I can feel comfortable recommending to parents.

    Today I’m reviewing:

    Putting Children First:
    Proven Parenting Strategies
    for Helping Children Through Divorce
    by JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, PhD

    Intended Audience: This book is intended for parents who are going through a divorce where children are involved.  Much of this book talks about the initial steps to getting divorced, such as telling your children, and making custody decisions, so it will be most helpful for parents who are just beginning the divorce process. However, some of the information would be helpful even well after the divorce is over, such as the chapters on emotionally intelligent parenting and remarriage.

    Author: Dr. Pedro-Carroll is a clinical psychologist who is recognized internationally as an authority in the field of children and divorce. She can make that claim because, among other accolades, she is an advisor to Sesame Street on the topic of divorce. Her website is pretty good, so if you’re interested in learning more about her and her work, check it out here. 

    Summary: This book has nine chapters that are roughly chronological when going through the process of divorce. The first few chapters talk about how children think and feel about divorce, and the potential impact it can have on them over time. The next few chapters are more pragmatic, discussing how to tell your children about the divorce and how to create a parenting plan and make decisions regarding your children during the divorce. It then moves into how to take care of yourself and your children during your divorce. This includes ways to control conflict with your ex-partner, helping your children build resiliency, and ways to have a healthier relationship with your children during and after a divorce. Finally, the last part discusses how to handle new relationships around your kids, and examples showing it is possible to have a “successful” divorce.

    Helpfulness: This book is so helpful! My favorite thing about it was that it gives really useful sample wording for how to talk to your kids about certain subjects related to divorce. Of course you’re not going to memorize the paragraphs, but sometimes having sample words and phrases can be really helpful when you’re struggling with what to say. Even better, these samples are broken down by age, so there are different  suggestions for several age groups. There are also a lot of ideas, suggestions, and activities that can easily be implemented by parents. Overall, I think this is a really helpful book.

    Readability: This is just like reading a “regular” book, it’s not clinical or dry at all. The author uses a lot of stories and examples to keep the reader engaged. I had no trouble reading through this in a few days.

    Critiques: If I were creating my ideal book about parenting and divorce, I think I would include a few more chapters about parenting after the divorce is over and the dust has settled. It’s included in here, but not as extensively as it could have been.

    Overall Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars.

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