Collateral Damage // Dr. Chirban

A forty-five year old woman who was twelve years old when her parents divorced shared this experience: “My mom put all my dad’s clothes and lunchbox in the car, drove to the woman he was having an affair with, and had me throw all of his clothes on the woman’s lawn, knocked on the door with his lunchbox and told her to make my dad’s lunch for work the next day.”

That is just one of the many raw and revealing quotes from the book Collateral Damage by Dr. John T. Chirban. The book is written to parents as a guide to help navigate the murky waters of divorce. It focuses on steps parents can take to help their children while also caring for themselves through the process.

The book is based on the author’s story of going through a divorce, his education and experience as a psychologist and a five-year survey that was geared toward the parents and the children of divorce.

Dr. Chirban, through his involvement with the Dr. Phil show, was in a unique position to reach many people with the Divorce Study. Over 10,000 people responded to the survey and numerous quotes, like the one above, are shared throughout the book.  Some of the quotes are from the children of divorce and others are from the perspective of the parents. Many of them are heart-breaking as you read the pain and loss caused by the dissolution of families.

Dr. Chirban speaks to the challenges that children face as their parents go through the divorce process.  While he highlights some positive steps parents can take, he also reveals some of the missteps that have occurred in the lives of many.

Here’s just one example from the Divorce Study:” The study showed that 51 percent of divorced parents said they spoke with their children and believed they had met their needs, yet 87 percent of children reported they had no one to talk to about their feelings during the divorce.” (pg. 22)

One of the many challenges that parents going through a divorce must face is how they care for their children, allow them to express freely their emotions and process their feelings while also trying to work through their own hurts and hangups with the end of the marriage.  Dr. Chirban provides a good resource for parents to use to address both sides of that equation.

While I think this book is helpful for anyone who works with children and families and for people who have already gone through a divorce, where I think it would be most helpful is for those who are considering or in the process of divorce.  Dr. Chirban shares good information that can help parents care for themselves and their children.  The quotes shared and steps given provide parents some clarity during a confusing and emotionally charged season.

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