Creative Alternatives to the Courtroom

Divorce: The Art of Screwing Up Your Children—Book Review by Melody Richardson

Thank you to Melody Richardson of Richardson, Bloom and Lines, LLC of Atlanta, for our first book review. The book being discussed is Dr. Howard Drutman’s book “Divorce: The Art of Screwing Up Your Children.” 

Dr. Drutman’s sardonic new book, “Divorce: The Art of Screwing Up Your Children”, is a “how-to” book for parents who have become so embroiled in the battle with their children’s other parent that they have become blind to how that battle is screwing up their children. This book is also for parents who are self-aware enough that they do not want to screw up their children. Dr. Drutman, a psychologist in suburban Atlanta who specializes in clinical and forensic psychology in family law cases, draws upon his real-life experiences to create examples of the best way to harm your children during and after a divorce.

Relationships are important. Role modeling healthy relationships for your children are as equally important. No parent wants his or her child to grow up lonely because the child has no idea what a good relationship looks like, let alone how to achieve one. The takeaway of Dr. Drutman’s book is that parents may very well doom their child to a life of unhealthy relationships because of how they treated each other during and after divorce. 

As Dr. Drutman says in the book’s afterword, “[u]nrelenting parental conflict is the greatest source of emotional pain for children of divorce and the number one factor that impacts their well-being.” The book lays out exactly how a parent can increase the conflict and never let it subside, then in short parentheticals, explains how and why high-conflict behaviors are harmful to your children. Your child will be angry, mistrustful, and, because of the poor relationship role modeling, lonely. 

With sections entitled ‘Always Win, Don’t Give In,’ ‘Be Selfish,’ and ‘Litigate Over And Over Again,’ Dr. Drutman gives solid, one-line advice that is expounded upon in each section with concise examples using simple terms. For example, ‘Always Win, Don’t Give In’ is the underlying theme of the behaviors described that will surely result in screwing up your children. In the ‘Litigate Over and Over Again’ section, Dr. Drutman says, tongue-in-cheek of course, that “[l]itigation is costly and time-consuming, and, therefore, it is the best way to exact your revenge…force her to spend every cent of her retirement savings paying lawyers to defend her case.” Then Dr. Drutman succinctly describes what the result will be to the children: “[t]hey [the children] are dragged back into the middle of their parents’ conflict, and they have to re-experience the same negative thoughts and feelings that they did during the original divorce litigation.”

“With repeat litigation, the children re-experience this stress over and over again. Additionally, your children will model your behavior by learning to be unforgiving and vindictive…” Any parent involved in or not emotionally recovered from a bitter divorce, who is interested in his or her child’s well-being, should read and re-read this book. And be sure to pay close attention to the disclaimer.