Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children

By Joyce Lee August 14, 2015

Macaroni Kid Review

My heart goes out to kids with parents going through a divorce.  I have been there as a child of a broken family and know how important communication with the child is at those hard moments of truth.  While I do not support or advocate divorce, the harsh reality is it does happen and is hard on all members of the family, especially the kids.  As such, this book is a great idea as an effective communication tool to help with those heart to heart talks needed during family changes due to divorce.  


Children going through their parents' divorce often do not have the words to express how they feel, nor do they know how to process what is happening to their family.  The discussion parents have with kids on this topic is usually awkward and incomplete (at best).  This is true especially for parents with a young(er) child (ages 4-8).  Although the child has deep feelings on the topic, he/she does not have the vocabulary, nor the courage, to speak his/her mind about what is happening to the family.  Not knowing how much young kids understand, parents may over simplify the discussion with their child(ren) on divorce, often resulting in the child feeling unheard and confused.   


 “Family Changes” is a great tool for parents to start a conversation with kids regarding divorce.  The book follows the story of a bunny named Zoey starting at that crucial moment when Zoey’s mom explains to little Zoey that their divorce has happened, what it means, and that dad and mom are now separated.  Kids can relate to Zoey’s raw feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, self blame, outbursts (such as slamming the door),  and even physical manifestations of stomach pain.  The story creates a safe context for the young child to have a dialogue with an adult on such a difficult topic, and helps the child feel that he/she is not alone because Zoey is going through the same thing.  Important topics are touched upon such as having two homes, changes in how the parents will take care of him, and why divorce happened.  Zoey’s questions are addressed in an age appropriate manner, and creates a common language that both children and adults can use together to start a discussion about the family changes.  We recommend this book to any parents facing the need to talk to their child about divorce.

Family Changes
: Explaining Divorce to Children


To help parents, family members, and professionals minimize the potentially damaging effects of divorce on young children, clinical psychologist and first-time author Azmaira H. Maker, Ph.D. wrote the beautifully illustrated and informative children’s book, Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children.  In this heartfelt story, Dr. Maker teaches parents and other influential adults in a child's life—such as teachers, grandparents, and therapists—how to best explain this emotional and confusing experience to young children.


Perfect for children aged four through eight, Family Changes features a colorful cast of fuzzy characters, including a young bunny protagonist named Zoey, who walks us through shifting family dynamics and her related feelings and thoughts. Taking readers through Zoey’s emotional journey, this touching story helps young children better identify, process, and understand their own feelings, concerns, and questions about divorce.  An interactive therapeutic section in the "Note to Adults" at the beginning, and key "Process Questions" at the end of the book helps facilitate a developmentally appropriate dialogue between adult and child.  Family Changes is the ultimate guide to help parents, professionals, and family members respond to children’s emotional and cognitive needs that emerge during the transitional stages of the divorce process.


            An interactive, informative, and inspirational book, Family Changes reveals:


·      How to Frame the Conversation: The book guides parents and other influential adults on how to create and foster a dialogue and process that is appropriate, and targets children’s cognitive and emotional needs to help them cope with a major life transition.


·      Child Development: Language and illustrations are geared toward young children, so that they can instinctively relate to the themes visually, emotionally, linguistically, and cognitively.  The story weaves through play, fantasy, and daily life, touching upon heavier, more complicated issues related to divorce.  It reminds adults that a one-time sit down discussion to understand and cope with such a situation is not typical; but rather, it is a journey through play, fantasy, and reality.


·      Power of Storytelling:  Parents and significant others can use storytelling as an effective tool to communicate about separation or divorce.  This technique of ‘displacement’ – it is happening to them and not to me – is a common tool used by psychologists and other professionals. Storytelling allows children a safe space via fantasy and alternate protagonists to work though complicated feelings.


·      Process Questions: Questions every parent and other significant adults need to explore and discuss with children that relate to separation and divorce. Walking the child through the anxiety-provoking unknowns via the process questions allows the adult to target key worries and confusions many children have during separation and divorce.    


Dr. Maker was motivated to write this book based on her clinical work because, “Many books on divorce are for older children, and several books published for younger children were published quite a few years ago.  These books can be simplistic or factual, and don’t necessarily integrate facts with emotional processing.  They also lack an interactive template for adults in terms of what to expect, how to understand children’s needs, and how to respond to the young child.  Family Changes, however, offers all of those things and is an attempt at a more comprehensive psychological tool, with a guide for adults to facilitate the young child’s cognitive and emotional understanding of divorce.”

With 20 years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Maker holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Vassar College, and a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from University of Michigan.  She then completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan Hospital, Dept. of Psychiatry.  She has taught and supervised undergraduate and graduate students in play therapy and family therapy, and has published professional articles in scientific, peer-reviewed journals.

A private practitioner, Dr. Maker specializes in child development, parenting, and psychotherapy.  She currently resides in San Diego, CA with her familyFamily Changes is her first book.

Websites:  AspiringFamiliesPres  and

Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through all major booksellers.


Connect with Dr. Maker on FacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.