Follow the Money

Grandparents often wake up one morning and wonder how they could possibly be this old. How did it happen? Sneaks up on you, sort of…First you notice that your doctors and political leaders are young enough to be your sons or daughters. Your own children’s friends are people of “substance” in their fields----whether law, business, education, technology; and if they are not, why aren’t they as successful as they “should be”.

Your co-workers get younger every year. Your jokes about Jack Benny’s vault evoke puzzled stares and an occasional, “Who’s Jack Benny?”  But a lot more than popular culture icons have changed. Intrinsic values are often turned on their heads.  Behind all this mess now in the financial world a huge flip flop is revealed.  Sure our parents (the great-grand parent generation) believed in hard work and prized the financial rewards it brought. Most were committed capitalists, with full faith in the system. But they clung to a priviso or two: “Work hard, make a lot of money, and be sure to save a lot too!” Go after the brass ring with a fervor, but do it honestly. Lying, cheating, exploiting friends and relatives, in particular, was considered heinous.

Something has happened since the winding down of the cold war.  Our new enemy is financial failure or even mediocrity. Nothing is more sacred than the acquisition of signs of riches---huge, if highly mortgaged multiple homes, automobiles, electronic toys, boats, clothes, jewels, glitzy vacations and hobbies, obscene tuitions even in some preschools. We’re in an awful mess because of the acceptance of excess.

A check out clerk at the supermarket confided a question she was almost ashamed to ask me---it seemed so unreal. “Someone about your age told me that when you were growing up there were no credit cards.  Is that true or is he pulling my leg?”

Her eyes bulged as I confirmed the accuracy of that information. It was too much to believe that we didn’t even have health insurance cards.  Mom would send or take us to the doctor with a stomach ache or sore throat and a five or ten dollar bill to pay the kind gentleman for his care. In farm towns, some doctors got paid in eggs, chickens, a side of beef or a turkey for Thanksgiving. That worked because it was a long horse and buggy ride to the general store, and the farm goods were fresh. But now I am going way back to a time----before Jack Benny even thought of having a vault. Jack’s silent reaction to an armed robber’s demand, “Your money or your life” caused the villain to repeat the choice before him.  “Give me a minute”, Benny responded, “I am thinking about it”.

With that remark, we entered the modern era, thinking less and less about any contest between our money and our lives. Today, it’s money, hands down.

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Ten Favorite Picture Books, Part 2: THE LIST

So, last week I agonized about which books to pick fo Fuse #8's Top 100 Picture Books of All Time poll. And at the end of the post I announced that I had my list ready and was just waiting to post it. And then tonight I pulled up that post, all prepared to cut and paste and email and be done with it. Because I'd decided already, right?

But...noooo! There were more decisions and re-shufflings and re-considerings to do, and then finally, much later than I'd thought, I was done. So here's my list, quick, before I change my mind again:

  1. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Two things: my Children’s Literature professor in library school used this title as an example of the uber-picture book, showing how the illustrations take over more and more of the page as the Wild Things take over. And back when I taught at an infant/toddler childcare, there was this very angry 2-year-old used to gleefully slap the page and cry “No!” along with Max,--you could see the tension flow out of him at finding a book that recognized how powerful feelings can be. Any book that resonates like that with toddlers and PhDs alike, over the generations, has got to be my pick for #1.

  1. Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems

It’s a mixed-media extravaganza! It’s a poignant coming-of-age story! It’s set in one of my favorite neighborhoods in the whole world! And it has the very best busted-dad look EVER—Mo Willems can show more human emotion with fewer penstrokes than you’d even think possible. Not to mention the immortal phrase “Aggle flabble klabble!”

  1. Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans

What really does it for me is that page where Miss Clavel runs fast and faster, so that she’s a sketchy blur on the page. And the crack on the hospital ceiling which had the habit of sometimes looking like a rabbit. So dreamlike and weird and also just like real life.

  1. A Voyage to the Bunny Planet, by Rosemary Wells (three books that have been reprinted as an omnibus and that I’m counting as one)

The Bunny Planet can make ANYBODY feel better. They should be sending theose books out with IRA statements.

  1. Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

One boy and a crayon create a whole world, complete with ocean, moose, pie, the moon, and a neatly-drawn-up bed.

  1. Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag

A choice perhaps slightly influenced by my kid’s starring role as The Very Old Woman in her first-grade play. But it was one of my favorites before that, too, way back to before I could even read. And that was a long, long time ago.

  1. A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams

There’s something about the simplicity and kindness of this family story, and Vera  B. Williams’s big vibrant blobs of color, and that totally gets to me. Every time.

  1. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes

One of the few kids’ books that really pulls off a depiction of a kid doing something wrong and being honestly, believably sorry.  Combine that with cute mice, a groovy Birkenstock-wearing teacher, cheesy snacks, and of course Lilly her indefatigable self, and you’ve got a classic for the ages.

  1. The Shy Little Girl, by Phyllis Krasilovsky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Trina Schart Hyman was a hardworking genius of an illustrator; this title is one of her earliest. It isn’t as famous or as lush as her later books, but it’s my favorite. The story is so simple as to be archetypical—a shy girl becomes more confident when she makes a friend—but the illustrations, with their poignance and detail and spare use of color (mostly earth tones, with only the title character and her best friend rendered in full color), give it life and specificity. Long out of print; I wrote a bit more about it a couple months ago here.  

  1. Thirteen, by Remy Charlip and Jerry Joyner

Long before David Wiesner or David Macaulay or Brian Selznick were making visual magic with picture books, there was Thirteen, with its (yes) thirteen simultaneous stories on each page, some of them dripping into each other, some complete in themselves. Beautiful and funny and mysterious and surreal.

And because I couldn’t bear to not list the rest of my top 20:

  • The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco
  • The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
  • A Bargain for Frances, by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban [I know easy readers were specifically excluded, but this has been published as a regular old picture book too. And it’s got the cleverest, best plot twist EVER.]
  • Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester & Lynn Munsinger
  • Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina
  • Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey
  • The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, by Don and Audrey Wood
  • Ten Minutes Till Bedtime! by Peggy Rathmann
  • Roxaboxen, by Alice McClaren, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
  • The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Pinkwater

Okay, that's it! Really! Done now! No more changing my mind! Or adding things! Clicking "Publish"!

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Ten Favorite Picture Books Challenge, Part 1: In Which I Dither And Whine

Elizabeth Bird of Fuse #8 has challenged us all—that means you, too—to send her our nominations for the Ten Best Picture Books of All Time, which she is going to compile into a mombo list of The 100 Best Picture Books. In the comments to her original post, she clarified somewhat: not the ten books that we believe to be the most critically, objectively award-worthy, but each of our very own personal favorites. Also: only regular picture books, no easy readers.

So, here’s how I did it: First, I wrote down, without referring to any lists or resources, the books that came to mind that I personally adore to pieces. Then, to jog my memory, I looked at the Past Caldecott Medal and Honor Winners and the New York Public Library’s 100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know, and I added some books from those lists that are not only critically noteworthy but that I personally adore to pieces. Then I looked through some of my curriculum notes from my old job, so I could remember the books I particularly like reading aloud to classes. Meanwhile, I was also going to work, which involves a fair bit of flipping through the picture-book collection.

Then I made myself a rule: no more than one book by any single author would go on my list. This led to a lot of dithering: Knuffle Bunny or Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus? Where the Wild Things Are or In the Night Kitchen? Thirteen or Fortunately? Most often, the battle was between my personal and professional selves; between the book that I personally adore to pieces and the one whose one kid-friendliness or narrative perfection or canonical status would normally lead me to put it on a Professional Ten Best List.

Which led me to deeply consider the nature of “best,” and how it is different from “favorite.” Which led me to try to trick myself into composing a list by asking myself questions. Like: “If I were stranded on a desert island and had to entertain a pack of kids of various ages and myself, which ten books would I want with me?” Or, “If the world were about to end and I were entrusted with the task of putting ten picture books into the space capsule taking the last of its survivors to a new home in the sky, which ones should I pick?” Which two questions led to very different answers. And did not really help.

Which led me to bang my head on the computer and whine “This is SO HARD! TOOOO HAAARD!!”


Coming up soon: what I picked, and why. (Yes, I have made my list already; I’m just drawing out the suspense ;-) I do reserve the right to change a couple things before posting the final version, though.)

In the meantime: What are your favorite picture books? And are they the same as the ones you think should be on a 100 Best Picture Books list?

And while you’re thinking about that, there’s still time to email your own list to Betsy! I’m totally dying to see what the final 100-best books compilation will look like…

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Culture Clash

I guess I set myself up for culture shock since I read newspapers, and magazines including local weeklies that purport to “enlighten parents”.  And I am also a regular reader of books and journals in developmental psychology. As a consulting editor for NAEYC, I am a staunch defender of “Developmentally Appropriate Practice”, and absolutely certain about the value of play. My position about standards vs. individualized instruction is predictable. Learning programs should be designed to meet the individual needs of each child. No wonder the public positions on such matters frequently cause me dismay.

One of my favorite little magazines is “The Horn Book” since it not only offers updates about the history and current best of children’s literature, but dares to question some of our deepest held popular assumptions such as a commitment to enhancing kids’ self esteem.  Daniel Greenstone, author of “Ain’t I Great!: The Problem With Self- Esteem”, attacks with powerful data,  the notion that what matters most is to love yourself.  He accurately unmasks the notions that bullies and bad behaving kids have low self-esteem.  As it turns out, not liking one’s self is not an accurate predictor of poor behavior.

Greenstone quotes a NY Times writer who in 2002 predicted that “studies attacking self-esteem would not gain much traction.;” and they haven’t. The Times author pointed out that “Self esteem, as a construct, has become a quasi religion, woven into an (American) tradition.”  It is tough to budge it, just as it is tough to demystify group testing results.

The same can be said of the growing popular conviction that play is a waste of time, and kids should be single-mindedly working toward college acceptance from the day they enter school, maybe even from the day they are born. An article in the current issue of my small town paper announced (with implicit pride) that the Board of Education is offering a presentation for parents of all school children, from kindergarten up, a presentation guiding parents about how to prepare their children to apply to college. Implication: it’s never too soon; children are never too young to begin the college application process. 


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Autism Q&A With Early Detection Expert

Parent & Child magazine welcomes parent advocate and autism expert Nancy D. Wiseman. Nancy will answer your questions during April (National Autism Awareness Month) about early detection of autism in children and intervention efforts.


Nancy D. Wiseman has been advocating for improved awareness of early autism detection among parents and medical professionals since 1999.

  • Founder and president of First Signs, a national nonprofit organization that educates parents and professionals about the early warning signs of autism and related disorders

  • Author of The First Year: Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed Child (2009)

  • Recipient of the 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics’ Dale Richmond/Justin Coleman Award for outstanding achievement in child development

  • Mother of Sarah, diagnosed with autism at 2, now thriving at 13

Do you have a question for Nancy? Submit it in the comments section below. Nancy will post answers to select questions twice during the month of April.

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Kids, Books, and Rock & Roll

After reading my last post, a friend wrote to ask if I thought the Cure song "Charlotte Sometimes" might be based on the book. I have to admit that, not being a Cure listener, I'd never heard of the song until recently, when I started hunting down links for the last post, at which point I found, to my amazement, that the author of the BOOK Charlotte Sometimes, Penelope Farmer, has a blog, and she wrote here and here about discovering the song and eventually being invited to a Cure concert and meeting the Cure's Robert Smith, who sweetly brought out a battered old VERY GIRLY copy of the book, told her how much he'd loved it as a kid, and asked her to sign it. Awww!

The raucous world of rock & roll and the seemingly demure one of children's books might not appear to have much in common, but they coincide more often than you'd think. Lots of kids' book authors have rock & roll souls: Sammy Keyes author Wendelin Van Draanen lists as her hobbies “reading, running, and rock & roll”, and Lemony Snicket, perpetrator of the Series of Unfortunate Events, has been known to collaborate with Stephen Meritt of the band The Magnetic Fields.

And then there are all the young adult novels that take popular music-- rock, rap, punk--as their subject, or at least their setting, with protagonists who want to get into the business, or parents who are or were rock stars, and some characters who just love the music so much that it's a vital part of who they are and what the book's about. Here are a few in that genre that are great for the music-loving teen—or for the teen inside you:

Audrey breaks up with her boyfriend because he pays more attention to his band than to her. Then he writes a song about her that propels him into the big time, and Audrey, unwillingly, along with him. Having been bombarded by “Hey There Delilah” a couple summers ago, along with the rest of the Western world, and read a bit about the real Delilah, I couldn’t resist picking up this book, and I was glad I did.

You know how “High School Musical” is about being true to yourself, really truly true to yourself, and not caring if you look foolish or you might fail or no one else thinks what you’re doing is cool? Fat Kid is about that, too. Only instead of being cute and sweet, it cuts deep into the dorky, fat, sweaty heart of what that means, and how doing that is the only thing that can save you and is not incidentally the real meaning of punk. Truly awesome.

I wrote about this one a few weeks ago but am tossing it in here again because it captures perfectly  how much music can mean to you when you’re in high school—how a band, or a singer, can seem like something magical that reaches right into your soul and defines it. Also because it put the ineffable “Sunday Girl” into my head on repeat for days.

  • Beige, by Cecil Castelucci

There’s a distinct sub-genre of young-adult novels lately that takes on the topic of dissipated (fictional) rock stars’ legacies—not to musical history, but to their own kids. In Beige, neat, competent, organized Katy is dropped, protesting mightily, into the midst of the L.A. punk scene for the summer to visit her punk-star dad, The Rat, drummer for the band Suck. It’s not surprising that Katy learns some lessons, makes some friends, and changes over the summer, but the way it happens is what draws you in. Witty and kind, and educational into the bargain—Castelluci heads each chapter with real punk song titles, a musical history unto themselves.

On the third anniversary of his rock-star mother’s dreath from a drug overdose, 15-year-old Grady is invited back to Seattle to appear at a concert in her honor. Grady’s been living with his grandmother, far from the limelight, but she’s about to get married and he has choices ahead of him. Some time with his stepdad in Seattle and his mentally disabled half-brother help him sort things out. Another kid-of-a-rock-star book, with a thoughtful hero facing his past and the multiple meanings of love.

Once I started noticing the rock-stars-kids’ motif, I couldn’t stop looking for it. A couple days ago I picked up this example from the library. I’m only partway through it, but already it’s looking pretty good. Our hero and narrator, Leo Carraway, starts out as an uptight Young Republican fighting against the internal anarchist urges that he’s sure come from his punk-star biological father. But you can tell from the start of the book that he’s going to succumb pretty soon. I can’t wait.

Finally, even though it’s a picture book for the 3-to-8 set and not a novel for teens, I can’t resist mentioning Punk Farm, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Tired of the same old, same old “Old McDonald Had a Farm”? Try reading this one aloud and screeching, rocking, and banging along with the punkest menagerie ever. No wonder the animals are so sleepy in the morning…perfect for the Headbangers’ Storytime.

Rock on! Good night Scholastic!

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My 12 year old twin nieces (S & R) and their 7th grade classmates were asked to write an essay about an interesting ancestor.  Much to the delight of their father (my brother) the twins each elected to write about a paternal grandparent. S chose the life story of her grandmother (my mother) who had died when S was 6 years old.  R decided to write about her grandfather (my father) who had died before the twins had been born. Both girls gathered interesting details by interviewing family members.

S. said she chose her grandmother because she thought it was “neat that Grandma Helen had been able to work and have a happy life at home.” She had a very important job in “what was then a male dominated world.”  Imagine a poor girl from a large family, growing up in Brooklyn, graduating from high school at age 15 and working hard enough to become the President and CEO of Dell Publishing Company. R learned that their grandfather also had humble origins, and was the first member of his large family to attend college, graduating with honors before the age of 20.

These grandparents’ life story was not only about work and achievement. There was a romantic side to it. They met on a train when Helen was just 18 and traveling for business; and her future husband was a college student traveling home for vacation. Two years later they married, she, on her way to a startlingly successful career in publishing, he, a newspaper reporter, the couple beginning life together a month before the stock market crash of 1929. In the early days of the depression, Abraham Meyer was reassigned to the financial page of his newspaper.  Helen Meyer got on the bandwagon of publishing successes during those hard times. She had a hunch that movie and romance magazines might be diversions from life’s real troubles. (Incidentally, once again in the current economic meltdown, movies have become a popular diversion.)

The twin grand daughters admired their grandparents for making the most of their talents in a tough time. “Grandma Helen reached the top of her profession, never forgetting her first life priority—her family, soon to include a daughter and son.”

Grandpa Abraham was a hard working man, earning his own way through college and beyond. “I am so proud of him” said one of the two granddaughters he had never met. “It makes me very sad that I didn’t get a chance to meet him because he seems like he would have been a great grandfather. I know that if I had met him I would have loved him.”

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My First Professional Reading

This post is brought to you by Mitali Perkins's Facebook page, on which she recently asked: "Which college or high school course is most helpful to your vocation today?"
I replied: "High school and college were fine, but the most useful educational hours I put in were in 2nd and 3rd grade when I was in an open classroom and sat in the Reading Corner for hours at a time reading one children's novel after another. I became a bookworm in those two years, and am still recommending some of those books in my job as a librarian today. No joking."
After I wrote this, I thought some more about it and it is really true! Not only did those two years get me totally hooked on the children's books that --it turned out--would become my grownup job, but, even though I didn't know it, I was doing solid professional reading back then. Sure, I read a lot of mediocre fiction, and a lot of books that I don't even remember now, and a lot of books that, even though I loved them, have fallen out of fashion and/or availability in the past couple of decades. But I also read many books in elementary school that you'll still find on library shelves (and in print) and that I can still sincerely recommend to the Youth of Today. Like:
Baby Island, by Carol Ryrie Brink. Brink won the Newbery Medal for Caddie Woodlawn, but this is the one that sticks in my mind. two baby-loving girls are shipwrecked and end up on an island with a bunch of babies! It's the perfect little-girl fantasy: they get to be self-sufficient and survive on their own, with no grownups around, and they get to be nurturing and take care of a bunch of cute babies. I adored it.
The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. The Humanities teacher at my former workplace used to assign this book in conjunction with the 6th grade unit on ancient Egypt, and there is a lot of solid information in here--after all, the main characters so obsessed with the topic that they create a sort of Ancient Egyptian clubhouse in a vacant lot, and re-enact Egyptian rituals as well as they can. But what fascinated me was the touch of magic in the book: though it's not a fantasy, there's a hint of the occult (which turns out to have a mostly--but, tantalizingly, not entirely--logical explanation), and the strong sense that the protagonists half-believe that if they immerse themselves enough in Ancient Egyptiania, they can really get themselves there.

Charlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer. The first time I read this book, it sucked me in so completely that I didn't hear the bell ring to come in from recess (I was in my recess reading place, over by the jungle gym) and was alarmed and disoriented to discover that I was the absolute only person out on the school playground. But not as disoriented as the title character is when she finds that she's time-travelled in the night, so that she wakes up in her bed at her same boarding school but forty years earlier. 

The Secret Language, by Ursula Nordstrom. Another boarding-school book. I was transfixed by boarding school stories as a kid, and--to the bemusement of my parents--was sure that I would love it if only they'd let me go to one. The heroine here, 8-year-old Victoria, is bafflingly (to the child who was me) sad to be sent away to school, but she does make a Best Friend and has some satisfying adventures. When I re-read this book as an adult I was struck by its episodic nature: there's no big page-turning plot, just Victoria's growing understanding of her friend and her surroundings. It's all about the friendship, which really appealed to me.

Encyclopedia Brown series, by Donald Sobol. As a kid, I very much liked stories about girls. But I made an exception for Encyclopedia Brown books because they were so cool! They were sort of like stories, and sort of like puzzles, and sort of like mysteries. I never could figure them out without flipping to the back, but it was fun to try. Plus, Encyclopedia's friend and business partner Sally was pretty impressive.

 The Forgotten Door, by Alexander Key. Here's the truth: I don't exactly remember what happened in this book, just that I liked it. And that it was mysterious and science-fiction-y. But mainly that I saw it on the Reading Corner spinner for months before I got around to reading it. I took against it for no particular reason and just couldn't bring myself to pick it up, until one day, equally randomly, I had a change of heart and sat down with it and was astonished that it could be so good when I'd avoided it for so long. I still have that feeling about certain books sometimes: I don't want to read them, and don't want to read them, until one day I suddenly do.

Don't get me wrong: I learned a ton in high school, and in college, and I read many many books that enriched my life and that I still love. And of course I've read hundreds of children's and teen books as an adult. But for practical job preparation--who would have known it?--nothing in my formal pre-library-school education beats those two years I spent hunched in the reading corner. I hope, for my profession's sake, that even though open classrooms have largely fallen out of fashion, there are still kids out there reading with such indiscriminate freedom as I had.
Viva free reading time!

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How Do You Spell Success?

It seems there is no end to the social tentacles of the current recession. As reported by a recent N.Y. Times article, private school vs. public school education has become a painful issue for many families who believe in private school as the singular route to success.  So a special clash of reality and contemporary values has come to the fore.

Heightened parental anxiety about children’s academic performance predated the recession. Does it have to be a road through “Harvard”?  Oh, O.K., maybe another upper echelon Ivy School or one of the smaller and very select liberal arts colleges like Amherst or Swarthmore will do. Some children who can’t seem to ace the admissions tests for private schools that serve as platforms for “HARVARD” are left feeling almost worthless, a profound disappointment to their parents, who have put their own self esteem on the line with their kids’ scores and academic achievement. This is an au courant topic for sophisticated magazine pieces and books by benevolent child development experts, who urge getting to know and appreciating our kids for themselves, matching their opportunities to their interests and talents, rather than to parental ambitions.

It’s not all new, though. Even 2 generations ago, “the ideal eighteen year plan” for the road to success included a high school diploma from one of the feed in to ‘Harvard’ prep schools. The opportunity was not as common as it is these days; therefore, few parents or kids were heart-broken about having to settle for public education.  I, personally, never felt I missed anything important by not applying to a prep school. In fact, I think that my education was broadened by having spent 4 years in a typical small city high school. Fewer than half of my classmates even applied to college. They took courses that prepared them for office work. I still think that my elective typing course has been more useful than the years of Latin urged by my father. But perhaps the most meaningful aspect of my high school education was social, or more accurately, sociological. The members of my class made up a normal curve of American social classes. There were one or two wealthy kids, few with college educated parents, and about the same number of children whose families lived on an income below the “poverty line”.  There was racial and religious diversity. There were even gangs and gang wars. It was easy for those of us who wanted to steer clear of the “cross-fire” to be safe:  by going home when the last bell rang or more often, working late on the Newspaper or the Yearbook. You might say that high School journalism kept me out of harm’s way. 

Since so few students could afford to go away to college and none had ever applied to an Ivy League or Seven Sisters school, the process of applying was barely stressful. And when we got to college, we brought a social consciousness rarely shared by our new classmates.  After the first semester, the prep school kids didn’t seem so smart, barely had any academic advantage. And by now we have all forgotten the dates of Caesar’s conquests, but I personally will never forget what I learned about getting along in the real world.

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Good News for Children of Divorce

And the “good news” is long overdue. From anecdotal reports to controlled research, and plain old common sense, the word has long been out that---help for kids of divorce is in the hands of their parents.  All the splitting couple has to do to keep their kids from experiencing the worst possible grieving is be nice to each other. Stop the battling around and through the children.  Stop treating the children as if they are “property” or referees or both. Really, I mean really really, turn parental attention to what all this might mean to the children. Put adult grievances and face saving tactics off bounds. Don’t battle for “equal” everything, including time with children, especially babies and toddlers who thrive on familiarity and routine, so much that even a change to “Day Light Savings Time" can be unsettling for a week.  Give up such notions as a 19month old’s summers should be spent with Dad and his new significant other, on Sabbatical, in Greece, while Mom takes her two week vacation in Maine. One mental health author has suggested that parents in such instances act as though they are entitled to cut the children in half, “to be fair”.

But now, at last, “a court directly supports psychology’s role in lessening conflict in family breakups through the District of Columbia’s Superior Court’s initiative."  The court is funding a program through which psychologists, act as parenting coordinators, especially in high conflict custody cases. These cases are not ones with domestic violence or child abuse, but high on rancor. Court Judges appoint the psychologists whose goal is to ease the strain for the children, even eliminating  parental battling. The psychologists’ role is to enable parents to communicate better, work out disputes, focusing on each child’s needs.   The outcome of this program will be carefully measured, but judges are already unofficially enthusiastic about the results.

According to a Superior Court Chief Judge “the program is helping children by helping the adults in their lives get along better, demonstrating a way out of the constant parental conflict children have witnessed. There is already great enthusiasm for making this program a permanent part of obtaining a legal divorce.  What took us so long to change the focus in marital dissolution, from adult grievance to children’s needs. (ref.:"Less Fighting, Better Outcomes", Christopher Munsey, Monitor, APA, 2/2009)

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