COMBATIVE TO COLLABORATIVE

This book offers a variety of suggestions for how to navigate the most difficult decisions regarding co-parenting. She wants parents to thrive in collaborative relationships rather than fight at every step—or just try to “get through” until the children are grown. She’s optimistic that, in most cases, improvement in co-parenting is possible. Harlow covers a wide range of relevant topics, starting with “uncoupling”: how couples might tell their kids about a decision to separate and how to address questions of custody, living arrangements, and potential reconciliations. She then introduces decisions that need to be made when first establishing a co-parenting plan, including elements that one might not consider immediately, such as arrangements involving pets, vacations, extracurricular activities. The author also tackles questions regarding money, new partners, and stepparenting. Harlow is consistent in her approach, often bringing her suggestions back to the golden Rule. She wants co-parents to be empathetic, intentional, and good communicators, even coining a new term that encompasses these states: matter-of-fact caring. The clearly organized structure of this book successfully presents the author’s advice in a logical order while also laying out personal experiences—such as finding a new home after a divorce, attending parent-teacher conferences, dealing with unexpected events, and more—as she tried to build a collaborative co-parenting framework with her ex-husband; at one point, her son writes one section about his parents’ relationship. However, what’s missing in this book is expert advice and cited evidence to back up Harlow’s advice and claims, particularly in sections such as discipline, in which insights from a child or family psychologist might have strengthened the author’s opinions. A few more anecdotes from other families would also have provided a more varied perspective.

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