Although divorce is never easy, a Del Mar doctor is helping make a difficult topic easier for children to understand through a new book. Written by Dr. Azmaira Maker, “Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children” tackles a complicated topic in compassionate, child-friendly terms.
“It’s not the divorce that can permanently harm children, even though it’s shocking and upsetting. It’s how we do the divorce that can have an impact,” Maker said. “This is really about how we do it well so kids can bounce back and move on.”
“Family Changes” is Maker’s first book, but she came up with the concept while she was still in college.
With 20 years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist, Maker earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Vassar College in New York and both a master’s and doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. She completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan Hospital.
Throughout her career, Maker has worked as a clinician, professor, supervisor and researcher, nationally and internationally. Her clinical expertise includes work in inpatient and outpatient hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools and counseling centers. She has also consulted internationally with non-governmental organizations.
About eight years ago, Maker opened her private practice in Carmel Valley, where she works with children, adults and families.
“I enjoy helping people,” said Maker, who is originally from Pakistan. She previously lived in Carmel Valley before she and her family recently relocated to Del Mar. “Helping someone feel better, do better, be happier — that feels so good.”
While studying at the University of Michigan, Maker participated in a yearlong internship at the law school’s family law clinic, where she often worked with children. Having worked with children ever since, she discovered a need for a children’s book on divorce, specifically for children ages 4 to 8.
“I’ve always wanted to use a book to help kids better understand,” said Maker, who also uses art, puppets and playtime when working with children. “I really wanted a tool as well as a guide for parents.”
With a cast of colorful characters, “Family Changes” features a young bunny named Zoey, who struggles with her parents’ divorce. She has questions and feelings that children are likely to share.
Illustrated by Polona Lovsin, the informational and interactive children’s book includes a comprehensive note to parents and a list of child-focused questions.
“It’s helpful for parents to know what kids will ask,” said Maker, who is writing several other books. “Parents can think about those questions in advance. I recommend both parents have the same responses so they don’t confuse the child. It’s most effective when both parents are on the same page.”
Approximately 40 to 50 percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce, probably affecting more than 1.5 million children each year, according to an article in the Scientific American Magazine. With that divorce rate, the book isn’t intended only for parents, but therapists, social workers, mediators, lawyers and teachers — anyone working with children.
“It opens up the dialogue,” Maker said. “Divorce is not an uncommon factor in our lives. Children are living with it. This can help children understand it.
“I hope people use it in the best interest of the kids,” she added. “I think it can be very helpful.”
“Family Changes” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and on Maker’s website.
For more about Maker or to purchase the book, visit drmaker.net.