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Book Review by David L. Levy, J.D.

David, L. LevyFor more than 30 years, the U.S. Government has pursued the payment of financial child support as one of its top priorities. Of course, every parent should provide for the economic necessities of his or her child, but what about emotional child support, which is another term for parenting?

Why doesn’t the government pursue the improvement of parenting of children with anywhere near the same zeal as it pursues financial support? Is the government saying that money is far more important than good parents? This seems to be what it claims by virtue of the huge priority the government places on one over the other.

The result of this misplacement of values has put a generation of children at risk whose parents are separated, divorced, or never married. When you hear of children becoming involved in drugs, crime, dropping out of school, or pregnant as teenagers, the odds are more than two to one that these are children raised by single parents. More than 80 percent of felons in prison were raised without a father.

Single parents are to be commended for all they do for their children, but the fact is that children are born with, loved and raised by two parents: a mother and a father. And most single parents would like the other parent to be involved, but we must do more to encourage what has been a historical, cultural and social norm in virtually every society. This is not to say that children raised in other family configurations cannot turn out well – a parent is a parent and should be supported as such — but data clearly shows that children raised by their moms and dads have an advantage in life.

The U.S. started out on a great adventure in the 1970′s with the women’s rights movement and the civil rights movement to turn a new page in American history. But still, those movements, for all the good they have done, have created a huge number of single parents. Research was slow to reveal that children with both moms and dads active in their lives actually perform better on every social indicator of childhood behavior. Indeed, it was the 1990′s, when that research began to show the problematic results of a generation of children raised by only single parents, that a new reality began to emerge.

That included organizations such as my Children’s Rights Council (actually begun in 1985) and parent support groups around the country working to counsel non-custodial parents on how to handle custody, access (visitation) and financial child support issues. Books and research also increasingly focused on parenting topics. Some books dealt with parenting in general, while others focused primarily on the at-risk population of children whose parents are separated, divorced, or never-married. As head of the Children’s Rights Council since its inception, I am familiar with most of the literature. Many of these books are quite good, but I can assure you that Mike Mastracci’s “Stop Fighting Over the Kids” is one of the best.

It ranks high because of the author’s 20-year law practice working to help families, his familiarity with the problems they face, his experiences establishing and operating an Access Center for Families, and having served on various legal committees in Maryland, and around the country, which gave him further depth and experience.

Most importantly, Mike is a gifted writer. He is able to convey his sound advice in clear, convincing prose. He covers all topics with practical advice and sensible approaches. If parents have to get divorced, they would do well to read this book before they take a single step to hiring a lawyer or driving to the court house. This is because the decisions you make from Step 1 – considering divorce — all the way to raising your children to adulthood and beyond, will be enhanced by a reading of this book and the terrific advice that Mastracci has to offer. There is not one step in resolving day-to-day custody conflict in divorce situations that this book does not cover in terms that will help you and the other parent keep your child out of the middle of a custody battle. Be assured that custody battles will harm your child. Your conflict will reach the ears, heart and mind of the child. It cannot help but make him or her worry and fret, no matter how hard you try to insulate her or him from the struggle.

So make your best attempt to put your child first, lessening the pain to your child and you. Help yourself to a generous dollop of wisdom that will help you and every member of your family come out as unscarred as possible from what is happening around you.

“Stop Fighting Over the Kids” let Mike Mastracci show you how. It will be worth it.

David L. Levy, J.D.

David Levy is the Board President, the Children’s Rights Council (CRC).

You can visit the Children’s Rights Council on the Web at

2 Responses to “Book Review by David L. Levy, J.D.”

  1. “what about emotional child support, which is another term for parenting?”

    Believe it or not you have some parent who stand in the way of the other from doing just that. Lets call it using the kids as a tool.

  2. Michael, how are book sales going? Are you making any public appearances? I am on sabbatical from CRC, working on a policy book about parenting, wondering how to get it published. Any suggestions?

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