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Putting Children First:

Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce
By JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, Ph.D.
Publication: Avery/Penguin, 2010

NAPPA Gold Award, 2010, National Parenting Publications Awards 2010 Mom's Choice Awards® Gold Recipient



"I have known JoAnne Pedro-Carroll personally and professionally for over 20 years. She clearly is one of the country's top divorce experts. She stands alone in her combination of ground breaking research, keen clinical insights, and unmatched sensitivity to children's struggles through divorce.

Her reputation alone will garner great interest in the book. Her knowledge and emotional understanding will surely keep this book on the shelves of divorced parents, therapists, lawyers, and bookstores for years to come."

-Robert E. Emery, Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia, author of The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions so You and Your Children Can Thrive

"Putting Children First provides an abundance of useful information for parents who are divorced, thinking about divorce, or in the process of divorcing. JoAnne Pedro-Carroll is a highly respected psychologist, researcher, and developer of programs for children.

She draws on scientific research as well as her own clinical experience to provide clear guidelines for parents based on the best available evidence about what works. I strongly recommend this book to parents as well as mental health and legal professionals who work with children from divorced families."

-Paul R. Amato, Arnold and Bette Hoffman Professor of Family Sociology and Demography, Pennsylvania State University

"This book provides tremendously valuable insight and information about a child's thoughts and feelings and practical advice to parents, counselors and therapists dealing with the trauma accompanying divorce proceedings.

Dr. Pedro-Carroll describes the fears and concerns of children and clearly articulates a sensitive way for parents to approach these issues so that families can move forward with their lives in a healthy way."

-Judge Sondra Miller, Director, NYS Unified Court System Office of Matrimonial and Family Law, and former Justice, Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court

 “I believe the tools described in your book will be required reading for every divorced parent who wants to do everything they can to raise happy, healthy children. And just as important, your book will give a voice to the children-of-divorce that parents can understand and must listen to in order to be successful parents.

It is hard to effectively communicate to a child if you don't understand what she is saying to you. I do not have the words to describe how important your book is to divorced parents who want to raise happy, confident, healthy children. I loved that it was not judgmental about divorce. It focuses on the problem at hand -- raising children. Not the problem that is past. Thank you so much for writing it!"

- A parent

"By listening to children and combining a quarter-century of experience with the results of extensive research, Dr. Pedro-Carroll shares invaluable insights into the thoughts and feelings of children who experience what they often call "my divorce."...The guidance offered by this book is unique because it is based on an exceptional knowledge of what goes on in the minds of children and because of the blended sensitivity and pragmatism of the author."

-Lawrence F. Nazarian, MD, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry

"Putting Children First is a must read for any parent going through a divorce. Dr. Pedro-Carroll combines her extraordinary experiences working with children, children’s groups and families with the most current research to provide parents with down to earth, practical and smart insights into the thoughts and needs of their children, as well as strategies for them to help their children move through this very stressful time and emerge as well adjusted children and adults."

-Robin M. Deutsch, Ph.D. Director of Forensic Services of the Children and the Law Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School

"I am proud to recommend Dr. JoAnne Pedro-Carroll’s new book, Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce. It is very readable, but incorporates a vast amount of research as well as the author’s own clinical experience. Today, when so many children suffer the problems created by their parent's divorce, parents and the professionals who work with them during the transitions relating to divorce will find this book a great guide to helping their children cope more successfully."

-Robert J. Haggerty, M.D. former president of The American Academy of Pediatrics

"Putting Children First is clearly a “must-have” resource for separating or divorcing parents as well as for professionals who touch the lives of families in transition, such as mediators, counselors, attorneys, judges and mental health professionals. Dr. Pedro-Carroll combines her extensive clinical experience working with children and families and the most current research with her own experience as a parent and step-parent to provide proven strategies to help parents help their children through the stress of divorce.

I particularly valued the insights about children’s thoughts and feelings, often not shared with parents, and the ways in which parents can approach these issues to help their children thrive. This book includes a wealth of specific suggestions, and even sample scripts, to help parents prepare themselves to prepare their children for changes in the family. The child-focused parenting plan options will be especially helpful for parents who are able to work together to define a plan for the family in its new form. As a parent who has experienced a divorce, and as a family mediator and Collaborative professional, I am so grateful for this easy to read, practical, essential research-based guide."

-Beth Danehy, M.A, Family Mediator and Professional in the Collaborative Law Association of the Rochester Area,
Rochester, New York

 Read Jennifer Whitten’s review on Psych Central.


chapter summaries


Chapter One
“My Divorce” – What children say and what they mean

With astonishing frequency, children refer to the end of their parents’ marriage as “my divorce.” Although they often hide their feelings from their parents, in the safety of a therapist’s office or a support group, they often express deep feelings of loss and overwhelming worry about “What’s going to happen to me?” Dr. Pedro-Carroll reveals the often-hidden feelings children experience and the beliefs they hold, including the common but mistaken conviction that they caused their parents’ divorce, or the fear that a parent may stop loving them, too. She offers guidance on how to interpret children’s words and behaviors at various developmental stages and how to communicate effectively with them in ways that strengthen the parent-child bonds and foster children’s resilience.

read more about each chapter...




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2010 JoAnne Pedro-Carroll