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I have seen a couple of recent articles stating that January is International Child Centered Divorce Month.  I looked it up online and sure enough it is a real thing.  Diving in a little deeper I discovered that July is National Child Centered Divorce Month in the United States.  We will need to wait another half a year before we get to that one but here we are in the midst of a month where child centeredness in divorce is supposed to be taking center stage internationally.  So, what is one to do during Child Centered Divorce month?  I suppose that the purpose of this month is to draw attention to the importance of being thoughtful about the needs of the children in every step we take when we are either a family going through a divorce, or we are professionals working with families going through a divorce.  It is spending a month focusing on a consciousness we should have every day of the year when we are working through divorce.  

There are lots of ways to improve our effectiveness at being child centered in our divorce work.  We can offer divorce processes such as mediation and collaborative divorce to limit the conflict that the children are being exposed to.  We can focus on finding healthy solutions in litigated cases to create an atmosphere of cooperation and fair settlement to avoid involving the Court in making high stakes decisions, with winners and losers.  We can learn ways to work with these families to give them resources to help them deal with emotions in a positive way, and to communicate better with each other for the good of the children.  Finally, we can steer these families to other supporting professionals such as therapists and coaches to help them down the path and to reading materials that give them tools to better navigate the divorce. 

I always have my eye out for good books that will either give me additional tools to better understand and guide my divorcing clients, or that I can recommend as a resource for divorcing couples or their children to assist them with what they are going through.  It therefore came as a pleasant surprise that in my recent push to connect with other divorce professionals, Tamar Burris, a writer and life coach in Northern California took me up and during our conversation I was introduced to a new child’s book she had written, A New Special Friend.   

A New Special Friend is about Little Fox who is grappling first with the relationship he has with his Father after his parents divorce, then struggling with his Father having a new partner after the divorce.  The book works through the range of feelings Little Fox has from anger, resentment, sadness, fear, uncertainty, acceptance and even happiness.  The story touches on the fear of losing his Father to the new partner, and the worry of hurting Mother Fox’s feelings by accepting the new partner; two very real issues for young children going through their parent’s divorce.  

The book is very easy to follow and sweet.  I can see this book being a good resource for a young child going through divorce to let them know that the feelings they have are normal and it is okay for them to feel how they feel.  I think even more valuable is that it is a good book for divorcing parents to read to their children to help them acknowledge the feelings their children might be going through.  There is a scene where Little Fox is afraid his Father will let go of his hand when they join the new partner.  This would create a great opportunity for the Father to assure the child that he will not allow anything to get in the way of their relationship.  There is also a scene where Little Fox is afraid of telling his Mom about  Dad’s new friend and his Mom responds by being supportive and explaining that it is okay for the child to enjoy being around the new partner.  Again, a Mother reading this with their child might facilitate a healthy way to explore this difficult subject that may very well be weighing heavy on the child’s mind.  It is nice to have others to turn to to provide guidance with the difficult issues of divorce.  

A New Special Friend has found a place on my reception area coffee table as a reminder to all that enter that our children should always be at the center of our decision making as we move forward with each divorce, and also lets divorcing couples know that there are resources such as this for them and their children to provide support through this challenging time.  Thank you to Tamar Burris for her contribution and for all those who work tirelessly to make every day Child Centered Divorce Day.  Click here to get a copy of Tamar Burris’s book A New Special Friend.