As family and divorce mediators, we frequently work with parents who are about to separate and have not yet told their children about the imminent changes in their family lives. It is an anxiety provoking conversation for all parents and a delicate one for us. One thing that we routinely do is to give clients a complimentary copy of a brief but really excellent booklet entitled “What Should We Tell the Children…A Parents’ Guide for Talking About Separation and Divorce”. It is published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), commissioned by then president, Attorney Marlene Moses of Nashville, TN, in 2009; and it is available for sale at www.aaml.org. Clients praise the booklet, uniformly.
We were particularly pleased, therefore, when we attended the second annual meeting of the Academy for Professional Family Mediators' (APFM), in Denver, CO, over October 3-6, 2013, when this excellent publication surfaced in a lecture on the topic of risk and resilience of children of separation and divorce. Renowned west coast psychologist Joan Kelly emphasized that one risk factor for kids is parents’ inability or failure to communicate effectively with their children about this delicate topic. Dr. Kelly stressed the educational role that family and divorce mediators should play with clients in the area of parenting, and we were pleased to see her suggest the AAML booklet as an excellent tool.
Granting that Dr. Kelly actually wrote the text, her reference was substantively self-affirming. But, it also made us proud that both of the principals at LDRC are longtime fellows of AAML and founding members of APFM. AAML is often viewed, unfairly in our view, as a hardened group of trial lawyers who do too little to protect families from the ravages of litigation. What Should We Tell the Children? belies that stereotype, and reminds of the importance of leadership: that of Ms. Moses, Dr. Kelly, APFM and AAML.