Review: A sophisticated playbook for an all too mysterious process.
As adults, we know that life inherently contains harsh realities and dangers. Violence, divorce, drug abuse, panic attacks, severe depression are merely a few of the many external and internal sources of threat and distress.
Of course, children do not innately know these things.
Managing a child’s initial exposure or introduction to such distressing realities is a significant, often unspoken, challenge for parents.
In the recently published “How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce,” Dr. Samantha Rodman teaches parents how to adapt to divorce and successfully protect the child’shealth and wellbeing from the psychological shrapnel.
Divorce is not an inherently unhealthy situation that is doomed to harm a child. However, the life transition does produce short-term stress, and, if mishandled by one or both parents, can linger to undermine the child’s longer term health outcomes.
In clear and direct language, Dr. Rodman integrates important foundational ideas about healthy coping (how to skillfully channel negative emotions) with divorce-specific psychological obstacles.
For instance, in discussing an adaptive approach to the announcement (how to tell children that a divorce is happening), Dr. Rodman suggests that parents declare some version of the following idea: “Mom and dad don’t get along, and our marriage is not working out. We think it will be better for us to get divorced and live apart…it is nobody’s fault…we are sorry.”
While this narrative does not completely explain the divorce, or alleviate the child’s unavoidable distress, it efficiently relays critical information, minimizes conflict, and sets the stage for healing and recovery.
Dr. Rodman provides sophisticated solutions and strategies to each of the psychological curve balls that can emerge during the divorce process, and discusses how to modify each message to best-fit a child’s given age, developmental phase and idiosyncraticpersonality.
Overall, the book provides a very concrete and pragmatic script that empowers the parents to guide their family out of the turmoil, through the adversity, and toward rich healing and growth.
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Dr. Jeremy Clyman earned a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology (PsyD) from Yeshiva University. He completed three years of doctoral-level clinical externships in neurocognitive assessment, couples and family treatment, and cognitive behavioral for adolescents, adults and older adults.