|Cover art copyright Alfred A. Knopf|
Text and Photos by Jill Krementz
Alfred A. Knopf, New York
Reviewed by Laura Harting
I began using Jill Krementz’s books How It Feels When Parents Divorce and How It Feels When a Parent Dies early in my career as a child, family, and grief therapist. I found them very helpful to the children I was counseling.
In this book, How It Feels When Parents Divorce, 19 children share the story of their parents' divorces in their own words. Each child's story is three to eight pages long and accompanied by two or three large, black-and-white photographs. Each story is different, and the various situations elicit a multitude of feelings expressed by the children.
Over the years, this book has been particularly engaging for the 6th to 8th grade children in my practice. Middle school is a very difficult time for children, developmentally and socially. It is a time when children have difficulty tolerating being different from their peers. They often worry about something being wrong with them or their family. Divorce is a sign to a child at this age that something is very wrong. The child avoids reading and talking about the divorce. However, when children read these stories of other children and their families going through divorce, they do not feel different or wrong and they do not feel so alone. That is valuable for a child in this age group.
However this book, published in 1984, is quite dated in 2014. The clothing, hair styles, and electronic devices shown in the photos make the passage of time even more noticeable. I no longer use this book because the children see how old it is and dismiss it as no longer relevant.
To address this problem, I have been trying to write a book similar to this one. However, finding children willing to share their stories, and obtaining their parent’s permission for the stories to be published, has proven to be an arduous task. I have not yet been able to complete the project. Perhaps some day soon.
Laura Harting, LCSW, is a child and family therapist in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.