cover image Why Did You Have to Get a Divorce?

Why Did You Have to Get a Divorce?

Anthony E. Wolf. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-374-52568-2

Every parent going through divorce should have a copy of this book to refer to often. Wolf, a Connecticut psychologist, covers a full range of sticky situations, telling the kids about the divorce, dealing with an undependable ex-spouse, or coping as a noncustodial parent. Following the formula established in his first book on child-rearing, ""Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Take Me and Cheryl to the Mall?"" (1991), Wolf intersperses incisive analysis with clear-cut advice and, best of all, slice-of-life dialogue scripts that spell out fruitful as well as unproductive ways to respond to common intrafamilial conflicts. The chapter ""Rules for You, Your Kids, and Your Partner"" gives a concise blueprint for behavior when a stepparent enters the picture. Throughout, Wolf stresses that children must above all feel safe and loved, and that parents' first concern should be for their children's emotional well-being, which can mean stifling unpleasant remarks about one's ex, no matter how warranted such observations may be. ""Divorce or not,"" he sums up, ""success in parenting comes with your doing the best possible job that you can during the time that you are with your kids."" Wolf's wise and specific counsel should help improve the success rate considerably. (Sept.)