Family Changes by Azmaira H. Maker is a picture storybook that focuses on a non-traumatic separation between a heterosexual couple. It assists parents and other significant adults (grandparents, teachers, therapists, and caregivers) to process factual information with children, ages 4-8 years.
Divorce is a heavy word — especially for little kids. It’s hard for them to understand what it means, what issues it’ll bring on, and how it’ll impact their lives. It’s difficult and important for adults to explain it in ways that help them understand.
When kids are involved in family separation, they begin to sense the turbulent atmosphere at home — they often feel angry, abandoned, and somewhat responsible. “Was it my fault?”, “Why won’t Mom and Dad be together?”, “What will my friends think of me?” are the kind of questions they’ll ask.
It is crucial that these questions are answered with love and patience. The transition needs to be explained to them in a non-traumatic way that helps them embrace the change; with the right tools like children’s books, it gets easier.
Family Changes is one of the most informative children’s books about divorce and separation as it tackles this topic in compassionate, child-friendly terms. Ideal for young children aged four through eight, this book features a colorful cast of characters led by a young bunny named Zoey, who is struggling with her parents’ separation and is riddled by crucial questions and emotions that your child is likely to encounter.
In addition to the heartfelt story at its core, it also equips parents, therapists, teachers, and caregivers with valuable information on how to ease children through this significant life change.
The children’s book also includes a comprehensive note to parents and a list of essential child-focused questions. These are provided to guide the adult and child through this journey.
The book identifies and normalizes children’s feelings, issues, and questions about parental divorce and separation. Emotions such as sadness, anxiety, loss, confusion, and anger are demystified for the child through safe and easily digestible fictional contexts. It emphasizes that with kids, moving between play and fantasy is a therapeutically effective mechanism to “work through” anxiety-provoking content.
It also serves as a guideline for adults in terms of what to expect developmentally, emotionally, and cognitively from children. It provides adults with specific statements, questions, and information related to separation which facilitates a developmental and normative understanding of the child’s concerns.
The aim of this book is not to offer a magical solution or even a resolution at the end. Rather, the ending suggests that understanding divorce is likely to be a longer-term developmental process and not a one-time conversation.
“Exceptional, impressive, thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ from beginning to end, Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children should be a part of every community library Parenting Studies collections. For parents with kids who are having to deal with divorce, Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children will prove to be an invaluable and instructive aid.” Read the full review.
Midwest Book Review
“Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children is gentle, positive, and validating for both children and adults. With an excellent parent guide about the value of talking to kids about their feelings, a highly sensitive and engaging storyline with exquisite images, and an effective list of questions that kids typically ask, this book is essential reading for parents going through a divorce, and for therapists and advocates working with children of divorce.”
Sandra A. Graham-Bermann Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Michigan.
“Those of us parenting, working with, or caring for children experiencing divorce will welcome FAMILY CHANGES as a unique, positive, and creative resource for helping children understand and cope with this complicated transition. The comprehensive note to adults effectively explains how children work through painful questions and emotions. The touching story—with the endearing Zoey and her attempt to understand a very grown-up topic—ends with extremely useful follow up questions that will be highly valued by parents, child advocates, therapists, and others who wish to better serve children during this difficult time. I highly recommend this book to parents and professionals.“
Sacha Coupet, Ph.D., J.D. Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor of Family Law
Loyola University, Chicago, IL.
“Family Changes is highly recommended for children (age 4-8 years old) and their parents, as the author intended, and is a unique and valuable resource for therapists seeking to help parents of children to process individual experiences with separation or divorce.”
H. Pederson, Ph.D. Editor, and R. Schuster, Ph.D., The Family Psychologist, Vol 32, Spring 2016, Division 43, Society for Couple and Family Psychology, American Psychological Association.
“Dr. Maker has brought us this excellent educational children’s book about divorce and how to navigate the changes of a family undergoing separation. What the research shows is that helping a kid through this process will greatly affect their sense of self and ability to feel secure and confident about themselves. Dr. Maker takes us through this experience from the child’s point of view and shares the gift of positive transformation that can occur during this life-changing time. The imagery is sublime and the topic is handled so gently and ingeniously. Of course, it is written by a child psychologist with the gift of creativity. It’s a book every family going through divorce should have on their shelves.”
Krista Roybal, M.D., Psychiatrist
Executive Medical Director, True Life Center for Wellbeing, La Jolla, CA
“This heartfelt story teaches parents and other influential adults, in a child’s life, including teachers, grandparents, and therapists, how to best explain the confusing experience of divorce to young kids. One of the most ideal books for children of 4-8 years…”
“Family Changes is very useful for adults—a great many of us—who don’t intuitively know how to talk about complex subjects with kids. One caveat, though. This book is good for parents who are both actively interested in helping their kids get through the process as pain-free as possible.” Read the full review.
Chicago Lady Boomer Examiner, Examiner.com
“This book is a gem for parents and children alike. Dr. Maker does a stunning job of transforming a complicated conversation between parent and child into a lively, emotionally sophisticated journey. The loving relationships between Zoey and her parents parallel the bond between reader and child, as the two engage in a poignant exploration of various aspects of separation and divorce. The thoughtful dialogue and discussion questions will appeal to parents who are trying to guide and reassure their children, and the lively storyline and beautiful illustrations will delight the young reader.”
Ingrid Wheelock, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist, Seattle, WA
“I had the good fortune to see an advance copy of Family Changes, and I am so glad that someone has finally penned this creative and exceptional book on divorce! The book uses developmentally appropriate language to explain divorce to children in a reassuring manner. It also validates children’s complex thoughts about their parents’ divorce. Dr. Maker’s years of experience working with kids who are coping with the grief and confusion that accompany divorce shine through in every page. I highly recommend this book to divorcing parents, schools, libraries, and professionals working with divorce.“
Martha Crowe, M.A. Child Development. Institute for Public Health, San Diego State University, CA
“Based on the typical emotional turbulence a kid feels from separation or divorce, Family Changes receives high recommendation as the first title that adults should turn to in the effort to explain, explore, and support a child’s feelings in the matter, concluding with a list of ‘process questions’ which adults can use to further enhance the storyline’s overall approach.” For a complete review, please visit: Donovan’s Bookshelf and CA Bookwatch.
Donovan, Editor, Donovan’s Literary Services/Recommended Reading
“In Family Changes, Zoey, a little bunny asks her mother, “Mama, what does the word divorce mean?” Dr. Maker artfully uses the story of Zoey to help parents discuss the topic of divorce in an honest, loving, and positive manner. It uses magical symbols, warm characters, and soothing illustrations to aid deeper conversations between adults and children that read this book together. The note to adults, along with the comprehensive list of questions at the end, is an invaluable tool that will help maintain and grow a strong bond between children and parents that are undergoing a divorce. I would recommend this book as a must-read for parents, therapists, teachers, and lawyers who are working with children experiencing a divorce.”
Zia Agha, M.D., M.S. Executive Vice President, West Health Institute; Professor, UCSD, CA
“I have been working with children of divorce for 20 years and greatly appreciate resources such as this. I have recently shared the book with several of my clients who have responded quite well. Dr. Maker’s book is thoughtful, sensitive, and relatable for children in addition to providing a dialogue for their parents who may be having a hard time discussing the new transitions that surround the divorce. It is so refreshing to have an up-to-date resource to normalize the experience that children are navigating and thank you Dr. Maker for providing the community with such a wonderful tool.”
Lori Love, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and Divorce Child Specialist. Author of Child Custody Evaluation and Mediation Preparation.
“Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children, is a highly effective resource tool for children, parents and other family members, teachers, daycare providers, pediatricians, and psychotherapists. Dr. Maker has constructed a compassionate story of the many reactions and feelings that children have about divorce, and how parents might respond to children’s concerns with equal compassion and empathy. The illustrated pictures, in company with the text, are beautifully rendered, and draw a reader into the tale.
As a Psychologist in private practice, I have a copy of Dr. Maker’s book in my waiting area. The first day that I placed it there, two of my patients reported feeling very stirred by it – one, a parent currently undergoing a divorce, and, the other, a woman whose parents had divorced over 30 years ago…..This book tells a timeless tale. I highly recommend it.”
Jean Wixom, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
“Family Changes is a touching, poignant take on a challenging life shift for both kids and adults. This does a wonderful job depicting the true feelings behind divorce while offering a guide as to how we can start the conversations with the young ones affected. The magical story of a little bunny, Zoey, keeps the attention of kids while addressing emotions they feel during a divorce. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who needs to discuss divorce with kids.”
Erin Dalton, M.S. Ed. Academic Specialist, CA
“Family Changes is a beautifully structured and reassuring book that will help children and their parents navigate the paths of separation and divorce. The story is compassionate and charming, and children will easily identify with Zoey and her many doubts and feelings about the changes she and her family are facing. Dr. Maker also offers very helpful and wise advice for parents in talking with their children, as well as specific suggestions for encouraging valuable conversations. The book is sensitive to the complicated emotions that can arise while offering a supportive and comforting foundation for family conversations. I highly recommend this book for parents that are dealing with the challenges of divorce, and for parents, therapists, lawyers, teachers, and other professionals that are looking to support children’s mental well-being through the transition.”
Lesley Egler, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Boston, M.A.
“Family Changes is an extremely well thought out, well-written book by Dr. Maker. The illustrations are incredible and speak so well to the emotions that emerge for children going through this journey. The attention to detail in the ENTIRE book is exquisite! Dr. Maker writes from a highly seasoned perspective since this is an area with families that she is extremely qualified in. It will create a cocoon of safety for the children while validating the strong emotions that are very present for children. A must for every child going through this emotionally turbulent journey. As a psychologist, this is something I highly recommend!”
Divya Kakaya, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CA
“As a child and adolescent psychologist with expertise in working with families of divorce, I have recently had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Maker and talk to her about her book. I am very impressed by her clinical skills, compassion, and educational background which contribute to Dr. Maker’s unique perspective in writing this much-needed book. I look forward to sharing it with other professionals and those whom I see in my private practice.”
Amy Montague, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist, CA
“Divorce can be a scary thing. But this story and the pictures made it less scary for me.”
Daniel, a 12-year-old boy.
“This lovely picture book is geared toward children ages 4-8 years and is an excellent resource for any adult helping to support children experiencing a divorce. Through a heartwarming narration with beautiful illustrations, children see Zoey the bunny experience and ultimately work through the complicated emotions and doubts about divorce (Is it my fault? Why do I feel sad and angry? Is divorce forever?). In addition to the touching story, this wonderful book includes a useful guide for adults in its introduction and 20 follow up questions for the child and adult to further process thoughts and emotions.
In my many years of experience conducting co-parenting therapy for parents who are separated or divorcing, the most essential element typically is to help the parents learn to accept (and not resent) their child’s reactions to the divorce. Too often children feel sad, angry, guilty, confused, etc. and parents are ill-equipped to accept or even “see” or acknowledge their child’s feelings because it overwhelms or otherwise triggers them (parents). Through a beautiful story and the extra guides, this resource supports parents in learning how to accept, understand, and empathize with their child’s emotional responses. Hence, the child has the experience of “feeling felt” by the parents and this security allows them to begin to heal and ultimately successfully navigate their major family transition.
I know of no other book like Family Changes. I highly recommend this unique and high-quality resource for any therapist, parent, teacher, and all others working to support and help children through divorce.”
Cynthia Baker, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Newport Beach, California
“Family changes is a heartfelt story that children and parents going through a divorce will easily relate to. This thoughtful and heartwarming book reassures children that they are not alone with their feelings. The gentle, honest dialogue between the story’s main character, Zoey, and school friends and family is comforting to the child. The forward to parents and supplemental questions at the end provide excellent guidelines for parents and professionals to initiate healthy dialogues about divorce. Parents, teachers, and professionals will easily embrace and share this unique and resourceful book with children going through a divorce.”
Nicole McAleer, M.A.Teaching Academic and Behavioral Specialist, CA
“Dr. Azmaira Maker is a compassionate and gifted psychologist who cares deeply about the wellbeing of her clients in her clinical practice. It comes as no surprise that in her quest to help and reach others beyond her practice that she wrote this much-needed book to help children whose parents are going through a divorce. Her book is informed by her years of top-notch education and training and her extensive experience working with children, parents, and families who have gone through a divorce. This book will serve as an essential resource for adults to assist children in processing their parent’s divorce.”
Lisa Ambrosino Ho, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, CA
“Dr. Maker’s Family Changes is an effective tool in processing complex feelings about divorce. Not only is the language child-appropriate and sensitive, but its beautifully illustrated pictures also make it accessible to children. While Dr. Maker does not shy away from addressing difficult questions surrounding the issue of divorce, her approach is gentle and reassuring. Since it also offers a guide for parents and a list of child-focused questions, it facilitates constructive and safe dialogue between parents and children. I highly recommend this book – an invaluable asset in its field.”
Maike Ahrends, Ph.D.
Santa Clara University, Silicon Valley, CA
“Dr. Maker has taken on the challenge of translating the tremendously complex issue of divorce into clear language for both children and adults. Family Changes is a thoughtful and sensitive treatment of the many issues children face when confronted with divorce. Using a narrative that leads the reader through a child’s experience, Dr. Maker presents an approach to divorce that is honest, insightful, and helpful to parents who may be struggling with how to openly discuss the issue of divorce with their children. While divorce is never easy, Dr. Maker’s book provides invaluable tools to create a safe, loving, and supportive space for conversations between children and parents. As a clear guide to a difficult and emotionally charged subject, this is one of the most valuable children’s books about divorce and separation. This text cannot be recommended highly enough.”
Rashi Jackman, Ph.D.
De Anza College, San Francisco, CA
“My esteemed colleague Dr. Azmaira Maker has written a book, Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children, to be published in June 2015. It assists parents and other adults in helping kids process their feelings about divorce. I highly recommend this book as Dr. Maker has many years of clinical experience working with families and divorce.”
Kris Zeising, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, CA
“This book is a great way to explain divorce to children. The creative pictures tell a story along with simple words that make divorce easy to understand.”
R. a 9-year-old boy.
“This is an important book that will be of great asset to those who have to help children of divorce through this difficult transition. Though divorce is fairly common in the U.S., there is absolutely nothing common about it for children, who feel that their world is falling apart. I strongly recommend this book to parents, therapists, teachers, and other adults working with children of divorce.”
Markus Kemmelmeier, Ph.D.
University of Nevada, Dept. of Sociology
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