As a divorce attorney and certified Parent Coordinator, my clients often ask for book recommendations on effective co-parenting. Co-parenting can test even the most amicable of relationships. And like parenting, there is no guidebook for how to be the perfect co-parent.
However, there are plenty of reputable and science-backed resources available.
Over the years, I have compiled a list of books that are tried-and-true based on my experience and speaking to other professionals. Here are my top 12 books to help you co-parent effectively. I encourage you to read through the list and choose the books that resonate with you and your circumstances the most. If you have any questions about co-parenting, please reach out. The team at Wasserman Family Law is here to help.
1. Dr. Gina’s Guide to a Kid-Friendly Divorce Written by Gina Santoro, Ph.D., N.C.S.P. Purchase on Amazon “Dr. Gina's Guide to a Kid-Friendly Divorce is the product of Dr. Santoro's experiences over the past 13 years working with hundreds of families in transition. This handbook provides a framework for parents to follow during the difficult process of separation and divorce. Included are some of the most common challenges families experience, how to manage them effectively, and information to guide decision-making during this critical time. Dr. Santoro's hope is to help guide families through the difficult journey of transition and to help co-parents reduce their conflict. Dr. Santoro is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Ellicott City, Maryland.”
2. BIFF for Co-Parent Communication: Your Guide to Difficult Texts, Emails, and Social Media Posts Written by Bill Eddy, Annette Burns, et al. Purchase on Amazon “For more than a decade, the BIFF method of responding to hostile and misinforming emails, texts, and conversations has grown in use by thousands of people dealing with a difficult co-parent and with those who may have a high conflict personality, and it helps with those who don't. This third book in the BIFF™ Conflict Communication Series is especially devoted to parents dealing with issues during, and after, separation and divorce. Complete with instructions in the four-step BIFF method, and numerous practical examples, readers will learn the intricacies of their new parenting environment. When parents use this approach, not only do they feel good about their end of the written or verbal conversation, but it tends to influence the other parent to communicate more productively as well. While it's simple and practical, it's not natural for most of us because we are hooked by emotional intensity. This book can help you reduce the conflict and regain your sanity by learning what to write and what not to write.”
3. So, What's Your Proposal?: Shifting High-Conflict People from Blaming to Problem-Solving in 30 Seconds!
Written by Bill Eddy, LSCW, Esq.
Purchase on Amazon
“Complain! Complain! Complain! Have you ever dealt with high-conflict people who blame you or others for one problem after another without taking any responsibility themselves? Don’t you feel like wringing their necks?
Instead, consider the simple method taught in this book for getting them out of the past and away from blaming everyone else. Get them to quickly focus on the future, take responsibility, and contribute to finding solutions to problems – including those they created themselves or any problem.
When people complain and blame you, you don’t need to defend yourself or get angry back. Just calmly say: “So, what’s your proposal?” and focus on teaching the simple 3-step method explained in this book. This method will help you stay calm and confident while earning the respect of those around you – even those who want to blame you!”
4. Overcoming the Co-Parenting Trap: Essential Parenting Skills When a Child Resists a Parent
Written by John A. Moran Ph.D., Tyler Sullivan, Matthew Sullivan Ph.D.
“Overcoming the Co-Parenting Trap helps parents understand the reasons why some children resist a parent during divorce – a reality that touches many families. Combining years of experience in intensive work with families struggling with parent-child estrangement, Overcoming Barriers’ first publication offers practical insight on two central questions: Why does a child resist contact with a parent? How can I best support my child to have healthy relationships with both parents? This guide details practical strategies for working through the significant challenges both parents may experience with a resisting child. Common scenarios and concrete solutions are presented both for preferred parents and resisted parents.”
5. Overcoming Parent-Child Contact Problems: Family-Based Interventions for Resistance, Rejection, and Alienation
Written by Abigail M. Judge and Robin M. Deutsch
“Overcoming Parent-Child Contact Problems describes interventions for families experiencing a high conflict divorce impasse where a child is resisting contact with a parent. It examines in detail one such intervention, the Overcoming Barriers approach, involving the entire family and combining psycho-education and clinical intervention. The book is divided into two parts: Part I presents an overview of parental alienation, including clinical approaches and a critical analysis of the many challenges associated with traditional outpatient family-based interventions. Part II presents the Overcoming Barriers approach, describing core aspects of the intervention and ways to adapt its clinical techniques to outpatient practice. Overcoming Parent-Child Contact Problems is geared toward mental health clinicians and legal professionals who work with families in high conflict and where a child resists visitation with a parent.”
6. Overcoming the Alienation Crisis: 33 Coparenting Solutions
Written by John A Moran Ph.D., Shawn McCall Psy.D.Esq, Matthew Sullivan Ph.D.
“Doctors Moran, McCall, and Sullivan are three psychologists who together have many decades of experience working with high-conflict parents. They regularly write professional articles and make presentations at conferences for counselors, attorneys, and judges about high-conflict coparenting problems including alienation, domestic violence, and parents with mental health conditions. They know from experience that coparenting is never easy, even in the best of circumstances, and also that splitting up one household with children into two separate households is guaranteed to require some adjustments for both parents and children. Children challenge even the most skillful coparents. It has also been their experience that generally after hefty resources are spent, the courts find it is in the child's best interest to have a relationship with both parents, and the courts will order the family into reunification therapy that offers skills development suggestions similar to those described in this book.”
7. The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity
Written by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris
“Dr. Nadine Burke Harris was already known as a crusading physician delivering targeted care to vulnerable children. But it was Diego – a boy who had stopped growing after a sexual assault – who galvanized her journey to uncover the connections between toxic stress and lifelong illnesses. The stunning news of Burke Harris’s research is just how deeply our bodies can be imprinted by ACEs – adverse childhood experiences like abuse, neglect, parental addiction, mental illness, and divorce. Childhood adversity changes our biological systems and lasts a lifetime. For anyone who has faced a difficult childhood, or who cares about the millions of children who do, the fascinating scientific insight and innovative acclaimed health interventions in The Deepest Well represent vitally important hope for preventing lifelong illness for those we love and for generations to come.”
8. What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing
Written by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry
“This book is going to change the way you see your life. Have you ever wondered "Why did I do that?" or "Why can't I just control my behavior?" Others may judge our reactions and think, "What's wrong with that person?" When questioning our emotions, it's easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It's time we started asking a different question. Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” Here, Winfrey shares stories from her own past, understanding through experience the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma and adversity at a young age. In conversation throughout the book, she and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future – opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.”
9. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Written by James Clear
“No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving – every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you'll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.”
10. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Written by Daniel J. Siegel, MD, and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
Purchase on Amazon “In this pioneering, practical book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the bestselling Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson offer a revolutionary approach to child rearing with twelve key strategies that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children. The authors explain – and make accessible – the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. The “upstairs brain,” which makes decisions and balances emotions, is under construction until the mid-twenties. And especially in young children, the right brain and its emotions tend to rule over the logic of the left brain. No wonder kids throw tantrums, fight, or sulk in silence. By applying these discoveries to everyday parenting, you can turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child’s brain and foster vital growth.
Complete with age-appropriate strategies for dealing with day-to-day struggles, The Whole-Brain Child shows you how to cultivate healthy emotional and intellectual development so that your children can lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives.”
11. The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired
Written by Daniel J. Siegel, MD, and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
“One of the very best scientific predictors for how any child turns out – in terms of happiness, academic success, leadership skills, and meaningful relationships – is whether at least one adult in their life has consistently shown up for them. In an age of scheduling demands and digital distractions, showing up for your child might sound like a tall order. But as bestselling authors Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson reassuringly explain, it doesn’t take a lot of time, energy, or money. Instead, showing up means offering a quality of presence. And it’s simple to provide once you understand the four building blocks of a child’s healthy development. Every child needs to feel what Siegel and Bryson call the Four S’s:
Safe: We can’t always insulate a child from injury or avoid doing something that leads to hurt feelings. But when we give a child a sense of safe harbor, she will be able to take the needed risks for growth and change.
Seen: Truly seeing a child means we pay attention to his emotions – both positive and negative – and strive to attune to what’s happening in his mind beneath his behavior.
Soothed: Soothing isn’t about providing a life of ease; it’s about teaching your child how to cope when life gets hard, and showing him that you’ll be there with him along the way. A soothed child knows that he’ll never have to suffer alone.
Secure: When a child knows she can count on you, time and again, to show up – when you reliably provide safety, focus on seeing her, and soothe her in times of need, she will trust in a feeling of secure attachment. And thrive!”
12. The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret To Loving Children Effectively
Written by Gary Chapman
“You know you love your child. But how can you make sure your child knows it? The #1 New York Times bestselling The 5 Love Languages® has helped millions of couples learn the secret to building a love that lasts. Now discover how to speak your child’s love language in a way that he or she understands. Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell help you: discover your child’s love language, assist your child in successful learning, use the love languages to correct and discipline more effectively, build a foundation of unconditional love for your child, plus find dozens of tips for practical ways to speak your child’s love language. Discover your child's primary language – then speak it – and you will be well on your way to a stronger relationship with your flourishing child.”
If you have questions about co-parenting, contact Laurie Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our main number 410-842-1070.
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