Books can help children through separation

Earlier this month the Telegraph published an article by outgoing children’s laureate, Julia Donaldson, on the British media’s apparent lack of interest in our children’s books.  

I reckon anyone who spends even a small amount of time looking after children will be able to recite at least some of Donaldson’s fabulous stories word for word (‘the witch had a cat and a very tall hat, and long ginger hair which she wore in a  …’ ).  Being read to is a special part of growing up for most children.  It is strange therefore that there is minimal coverage of new children’s books in the media, even when the author is as well established as Donaldson.

In my work advising on how to get a divorce, and divorce settlements, there is often a danger that the needs of any children will be overlooked.  It is not uncommon for parents to disagree over the care arrangements, but equally there are many cases where there are apparently no issues.  In my view, it is the latter which poses a greater risk of the children’s needs being overlooked.  Special care should be taken to agree how the new family arrangements should be explained to the children, and books can be an invaluable resource in this situation. More family law solicitors are coming on board in offering more practical advice.

Given the general apathy over children’s literature, to date the media has not focused on the growing body of children’s books which deal specifically with divorce.  I recommend to all separating parents a guidebook called Separation and Divorce: Helping parents to help children, published by national family law organisation Resolution.  In this there is a list of books aimed at children of various age groups, to help children through their parents’ separation.  It is also worth checking out Little Parachutes a website which has a section specifically on books to help children of separating parents.

In the past this sort of publication has been thought of as perhaps a bit ‘American’, and too touchy-feely for our tastes.  But it is a fact that many children in the UK are now dividing their time between two homes after their parents have separated, and even if your child is not directly affected they are likely to know friends and classmates who are.

A book which has caught my eye recently is Mum and Dad Glue by Kes Grey, aimed at younger children, and about a little boy coming to terms with his parents’ divorce.  Strong stuff, but invaluable in reassuring children that they are not alone, and that everything will eventually be ok.

If you would like advice on any family law issue, please contact the family law team for a meeting free of charge.