Books for Parents

Finding the best resources to help and guide parents through challenging times can be hard. Within our mediation suite, we have a brought together a number of books both for parents and for children, that we are happy to recommend.

The idea behind this page is to make those recommendations more widely available.

If you come across any other books or resources that you have found helpful, please let us know, so that we can add the information to this page.


Parenting Apart

Parenting Apart

by Christina McGhee

ISBN: 9780091939830

Quite a few books have been written to help separated parents.  This one is, in my view, the very best - and by a considerable margin.  And my high opinion of the book is shared by the head of the England and Wales Family Courts (President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew MacFarlane) who wrote the foreword to the book.

Child Psychologist Christina McGhee has produced a volume that address both the issues that are likely to arise in nearly every two home family, plus the less common but more challenging situations that parents hope never to have to face.  She does so in a way that is balanced (neither pro-mother nor pro-father - but definitely pro-children).  

Parenting Apart should be regarded as an 'Operator's Manual' - a resource to dip into and to consult when you are not sure where to for guidance.  It should be read in the right spirit, by which I mean that you should approach it with the question: 'What can I learn from this that will help me to be the best parent that I can be?' and certainly not with a view to be able to pin-point what the children's other parent might be doing wrong!

Being a parent is a challenge at the best of times.  Being a parent after separation has an extra layer of difficulty. The purchase of this volume is a great first step in addressing those challenges and difficulties.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

by John Gottman

ISBN: 9780684838656

Though not written specifically with separated parents in mind, this book has a huge amount to offer to separated parents.

A comment that we often hear from parents is that they can see the emotional impact for their children of their separation.

Child Psychologist and Relationship Expert, Dr John Gottman describes the key importance of 'Emotion Coaching' for children.  Parents should, he suggests, coach children to emotional resilience through the way that they respond to their children's emotions (and emotional outbursts).  He identifies five stages in a positive parental response:  

#1 To become aware of the child's emotions

#2 To recognise the emotion as an opportunity for connection and teaching

#3 To listen empathetically, validating the child's feelings;

#4 To help the child find words to label the emotion that he is experiencing

#5 To set limits whilst exploring strategies to resolve the problem at hand

The book expands upon these themes and considers them in various contexts, including - at some length - marriage and divorce.

This is one of those books that all parents should consider reading.   I wish I had read it when my own children were small (and that it had been available to my parents when I was)!

The Suitcase Kid

The Suitcase Kid

by Jacqueline Wilson

ISBN: 9780440865483

Popular children's author Jacqueline Wilson has used her considerable skill to produce a book for primary age children that deals with the issues that matter to them when their parents divorce.

Following the experiences of Andrea and her toy rabbit Radish, we share her fears and woes, and eventual triumph as she navigates the problems of living part of her time with her father and his new family and part of the time with mother.  

Wilson does not shy away from the dark aspects of children's lives, but is careful to ensure that the story has an uplifting finale.

Definitely a volume for reading and for discussion - perhaps a way into discussion about your child's emotions, to enable the connection and coaching spoken of in 'Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child'.

Between Parent and Child

Between Parent and Child

by Haim Ginott

ISBN: 0609809881

As I read books on the role of parents, one person's name kept coming up.  I was intrigued and researched his writings.  The result was that I became aware of this particular volume, first published in 1965, which has influenced many of the authors whose books you find in this list.

It was Ginott who identified the importance of parents' first response to challenging behaviour being to understand the child's underlying feelings or emotions. 

The book goes much further than this, exploring many of the situations that parents face from day to day, and considering how best to respond in order to establish effective discipline, and build trust, self confidence and personal responsibility.

Each of the challenges behind these tasks is, of course, magnified for parents who are separated.

This is a volume that every parent should have to hand and re-read from time to time.

How to Win as a Step-Family

How to Win as a Step-Family

by Emily and John Visher

ISBN: 9780876306449

If you are a step-parent, you will know how challenging your role is.
So, right from the start, becoming a step-parent means facing an uphill task.  It’s a task that requires the wisdom of Solomon, the diplomatic skills of an Ambassador, the patience of Job and the skin of a rhinoceros.   Oh, and all at the same time that you are adjusting to a new stage in your own life. 
Having often heard of the frustrations of parents with new partners, and the new partners themselves, I made it my business to find out what resources were available to support them.  This was the volume that I thought most helpful, and I am happy to recommend it.

Living with Mum and Living with Dad

Living with Mum and Living with Dad

by Melanie Walsh

ISBN: 9781406334289

This delightful book uses flaps on each page - a device familiar to small children - to bring together facts about 'living with Mum' and facts about 'living with Dad'.

Whilst the book focuses upon the positives of life with each parent, it does include reference to the fact that a child will, at times, miss the parent who is not there at the time.

A good resource by which to reassure a young child whose life will be spent between homes and may be experiencing some anxiety.

The Great Big Book of Feelings

The Great Big Book of Feelings

by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith

ISBN: 9781847807588

The importance of identifying children's emotions, of listening with empathy to them and then helping them to label their feelings  is now well understood.

This book gives parents a good way in to identifying their child's feelings and helping them to give a label to those emotions.  Given that children, at a time of separation, are likely to experience many emotions - such as sadness, anger, upset, loneliness, fear, and worry - a resource to help parents and children to focus together on the feelings (positive as well as negative) that a child might be experiencing.

Dinosaurs Divorce

Dinosaurs Divorce

by Laurie and Marc Brown

ISBN: 9780316109963

Helping your child to understand what is going on when you are in the middle of a divorce can be challenging.

In this book, the Browns offer straightforward information on complex issues.  

Perhaps best used by taking individual pages to address specific questions rather than as a book to work through with a child, the charm of the book will appeal to younger school age children.

How to Talk so Kids will Listen, and Listen so Kids will Talk

How to Talk so Kids will Listen, and Listen so Kids will Talk

by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

ISBN: 9781853407055

This volume, whose promise is that it 'will bring about more co-operation from children than all the yelling and pleading in the world' is strongly influenced by the work of Haim Ginott - indeed, the authors worked alongside him for many years.

The book, as you might expect from its 'it does what it says on the tin' type title, is very accessible.  If the prospect of sitting down and absorbing page after page of text worries you, then this would be a good place to go to.  

You might see it as an easy-read alternative to Ginott's 'Between Parent and Child'.

Two Homes

Two Homes

by Claire Masurel

ISBN: 9780744589252

In this beautifully produced book a pre-school child talks about having two homes - one with Daddy and one with Mommy.  

Another reviewer sums its merits perfectly by saying that "Parents looking for a book about separation or divorce will find few offerings as positive, matter-of-fact, or child-centred as this one..."  

I would add only one cautionary note, namely that, as the title suggests, the narrator's situation is one where he spends significant time with each parent so that, in neither home, is he visitor rather than resident family member.  If your child's situation is different, this book might not be the one for him or her.

The Worry Website

The Worry Website

by Jacqueline Wilson

ISBN: 9780440868262

The Worry Website is Mr Speed the class teacher's idea of a Web site for his primary school pupils to write their worries down anonymously and then get help with solving them from their peers. Jacqueline Wilson has linked the worries of six children in the book through six short stories, and a seventh story is contributed by 12-year-old Lauren Roberts, winner of an online competition.  From divorced parents to living with a disability, and from feeling useless at school to nightmares at home, Wilson has sensitively touched on the small and big problems that worry eight and nine-year-olds. Holly's story of wishing her potential stepmother turns out wicked brings a lump to the throat, while William's huge appetite but less huge academic achievements are described with knowing but kind humour.
Another volume by the well known children's author that may provide a positive resource for children to read and for parents to employ as a conversation starter with primary age children.
Family Mediation Council Family Mediators Association College of Mediators Resolution College of Mediators Family Law Panel Sorting Out Seperation