It's No Big Deal Really
A Parent's Guide to Making Divorce Easy for Children
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Most would agree that divorce should be as quick and pain-free as possible, especially when children are involved. After all, divorce can affect children in so many different ways, with damaging consequences for their self-esteem, behaviour, academic performance and even health."It's No Big Deal Really" combines professional advice, and first-hand experiences of the successes and mistakes that can occur when dealing with a family separation. Anne Cantelo provides a commonsense roadmap to avoid putting children in the middle of a divorce or using them to score points off your ex. Addressing questions like: Is divorce ever right for children? How do you know if you're doing more harm staying together than separating? What happens after the divorce?, Anne Cantelo shows how to minimise pain and upheaval on one's children. Highlighting the errors many parents make and the impact they can have on children, Cantelo aims to make divorce seem like 'it's no big deal really' rather than the end of the world.
Title: It's No Big Deal Really
Author: Anne Cantelo
Title: It's No Big Deal Really
Author: Anne Cantelo
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I’m not a psychologist or a lawyer (although people from these professions did help me with my research); this book is about my experiences and the experiences of others that taught me so much about divorce and how it can affect children. I’ve written it in the hope that it will help others think through the issues and so avoid some of the worst mistakes. Unlike so many books on this subject, my experiences are not depressing; things can work out really well. My own story is that my partner and I separated in 2001 and divorced in 2003. At the time of the separation my two daughters were aged 10 and 13 years old. I was very worried what this would mean to them; like most parents, their happiness means everything to me. But on top of that I believe that parents have an obligation to raise their children so that they benefit society and don’t cause it problems. Divorce and single parents are held responsible for so many of society’s ills that it was a very real concern to me. Our children are more likely to get into alcohol and drugs, to commit crime, to become parents prematurely and to perform badly at school. I therefore hunted hard, but without success, for a book that would help ensure that my children were affected as little as possible. I found nothing suitable and instead was shocked by how much of the advice focused on the problems themselves, rather than suggestions on how to avoid them. These books suggested that the issues that divorce creates are unavoidable and consequently they made me even more depressed and feel more guilty. The rest looked at how to ‘win’ as much as you could from your ex in terms of money and access to your children; rather than winning the happy solution I wanted for them. The advice I received from others was similarly focused on the battle they said lay in front of me. I walked out of a lawyer’s office when he warned me that I was entering a war and the best way to ‘win’ it was to start the attack. I was told on numerous occasions that I was naïve to think that I could avoid the divorce getting dirty and that it was not possible to have an amicable divorce. I’m happy to report that they were wrong. It was the experiences of other people that I found most useful in giving me an insight into the long-term impact of typical behaviour during a divorce. I looked at evidence from psychologists and spoke to as many people as possible from all sides, children of divorce as well as parents. In effect this book gathers those anecdotes and research together and supplements it with new research. I’ve included both the mistakes and the things we got right, often by lucky accident. Two years ago my younger daughter, Gabriella, then aged 14 years old, came home from school and told me that she’d spent the whole of her lunch hour comforting a friend whose parents had announced that they were getting divorced. I asked Gabriella what she’d told her friend. Gabriella shrugged in response, ‘That it’s no big deal really; you get to have two bedrooms, two holidays and a break from whichever parent is giving you hassle.’ I was astonished and began to think again about how we’d reached that happy outcome (after, of course, challenging her view that I ever gave her ‘hassle’!). Ultimately her comment led to me writing this book. I’m pretty sure that Gabriella hasn’t felt like that every step of the way; I’ve made loads of mistakes, I’ve been depressed and bad tempered and I’m sure my ex has had similar ups and downs. I know there were times when it must have felt like Gabriella’s world was caving in. But to have reached the point where she can honestly say what she did proved the pessimists wrong. Divorce does not have to ruin your children’s lives.
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