Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

The post divorce family: children, parenting, and society (book review)

Ross Thompson and Paul Amato (eds)

Sage Publications California and London, 1999. 244 pps. ISBN 0-7619-1490-0

This is an excellent book which shows how the views of post divorce parenting are changing to emphasise the continuing roles of both parents. However it falls short of actually proposing a rebuttable presumption of shared residence.

The book comprises a collection of papers presented at a symposium on post divorce family life at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the spring of 1997, covering four main themes:

Ross Thompson and Paul Amato give a good introduction to the issues and they express the hope that by drawing attention to the importance of the post-divorce family they will encourage more thoughtful public policy in this area.

Katharine Bartlett's paper 'Improving the law relating to post divorce arrangements for children' highlights the growing use of parenting plans in the USA, where they have become mandatory in some states. The author also ponders the conundrum of the need for predictable outcomes versus the need for flexibility to cope with individual circumstances.

Other contributors are: Alan Booth, Robert Emery, Michael Lamb, Eleanor Maccoby, Daniel Meyer and Jennifer Wyatt.

Fascinating reading, although I feel there are rather too many references to outmoded parenting roles such as 'residential parent' and 'nonresident parent', and some very cautious approaches to contact for young children.

The back cover note says:

When a marriage ends, the family growing out of that marriage continues. While the structure of the family changes with divorce, the family itself does not disappear. Focusing on the consequences of divorce for children, The Postdivorce Family examines the stressors that divorce can create; adjustment problems among children of divorce; the issue of resilience for children; and individual differences in the psychological adjustment to divorce. The authors also examine the parents' responsibilities after divorce, including custody issues, child support orders, and nonresidential parenting. This book concludes with a section that explores the effects of a high divorce rate on society, including how the prevalence of divorce has changed the family form and structural factors that have contributed to various social problems. With this volume, the authors hope to incite analysis and reflection of the issues surrounding divorce and their implications for public policy.

Integrating the empirical research and policy perspectives of scholars from various disciplines, The Postdivorce Family will be of interest to students and scholars in the areas of family studies, psychology, sociology, human development, law, and social work.

David Cannon

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