Book Review & Giveaway-Collateral Damage, Guiding and Protecting Your Child…

book review and giveaway; collateral damage Well, as promised, I have finished reading and I’m ready to share with you my review of Dr. John T. Chirban’s Collateral Damage; Guiding and Protecting You Child Through the Minefield of Divorce. (And I thought the title of my book was long).  I was given two advance copies for an honest review and giveaway here at the blog. The book is slated for publication this month. That means, the books I have for the giveaway are pre-published editions and as such have no page numbers and the Foreward is not included. 

The Gist

Dr. John T. Chirban delivers on his promise to help you guide your children through divorce. Part 1 is dedicated to the children and part 2 is written for the parents. Throughout each chapter, the author focuses on one parental oversight and provides recommendations to over come or prevent that particular oversight. There are also plenty of true examples of various divorce situations from both the child’s perspective and the parent’s. The children’s stories are enlightening for any parent to read and better understand how to improve the situation for their own child. Also, the author even gives detailed descriptions of child development at various ages. Beginning as infants on until adulthood,  we can help fulfill those requirements for healthy development in our children, in spite of being a divided family.

Although the book starts out on a negative note, pointing out everything that typically goes wrong during divorce, the views are based on the Psychologist’s case studies and statistics from 10,000 people surveyed. The good news is, divorce doesn’t have to be so damaging to our children and ultimately, it is up to us as the parents to prevent these damages as much as possible and Dr. C shows us how. He draws up a list of common mistakes parents make and aptly calls it The ‘Dirty Dozen’. This is a handy list any parent can reference quickly for a reminder of what NOT to do.  The author shares some of his own divorce experiences adding a personal touch.

Overall, this book is a solid and helpful read for any parent navigating divorce, with their child(ren).

One Problem

However, in chapter 6 ‘Realign Your Relationships’, the author states something I highly disagree with: that Parental Alienation Syndrome is considered “bad science”. He states that “…when the truth is the parent’s own actions have caused the estrangement.” He cites only one reference for this grossly generalized statement. He dismisses the child abuse known as parental alienation, as being the target parent’s own fault. He then continues this theory by listing questions to ask that frankly, don’t encourage honest answers by a primary caregiver. In other words, the alienating parent could not use those questions as a barometer for their own controlling behavior.

That said, it is always a good idea to evaluate our own behavior and decide if it has caused the children to react by rejecting us as their mother or father. Indeed. But in my experience, being the victim of alienation, you typically blame yourself and are always evaluating your own behavior, which can lead to low self esteem. In many PAS cases, it doesn’t matter how hard the target parent tries to get in the child’s good books, they fail. They can be the best parent in the world and the alienated child still wants nothing to do with them. That’s why this is a very real form of child abuse. To minimize it as bad science is discouraging and in my opinion, missing the mark.

Dr. Chirban does follow up with “By enabling your children to have private exchanges and supporting them to develop the relationships they seek with both parents, you will not be guilty of muddying their relationship with your ex spouse and will be able to more confidently support your child’s preferences.” In other words, respect that your child has another parent. It’s really that simple.

It’s true that PAS is sometimes misused as an excuse for sole custody or has been falsely claimed, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. A child rarely turns away from a parent of their own volition unless that parent has done something severe to harm them. So, let’s not blame the victims here. Still, I respect the author’s attempt to avoid false claims but not at the expense of parents and children genuinely suffering from PA.

Aha Moment

Dr. Chirban goes into detail including a diagram, of the human brain. The Reptilian, Limbic and Neocortex are the three sections of the brain. The archaic part of the brain is the immature two year old in us (the Reptilian). As the Doc explains, we have a human tendency to revert to Reptilian thinking while undergoing severe stress. Could it be the animal brain takes over when dealing with our ex? Understanding this basic science behind the brain can help us understand our various reactions to situations and even change those reactions.


Overall, I highly recommend this book for divorcing parents. If both parents read it—even better. It would enable both mom and dad to get on the same page. It would encourage both parents to put their children first during the chaos of divorce. With the author’s expertise and advice on maintaining a loving relationship with your children, you’ll certainly help your child through the storm and to come out the other side healthy and well adjusted.

I give this book **** 4/5  stars.  I forgive the oversight on PAS because the value he puts on children’s experiences and how we as parents, can make it better,  makes this book worth reading and earns it the four stars.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here indicating you are interested in the book. Even if you aren’t going through a divorce, if someone you love or care about is, then you could pass it on to them. Thanks for tuning in, Escapees! You can also pre-order the book here

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40 Replies to “Book Review & Giveaway-Collateral Damage, Guiding and Protecting Your Child…”

  1. Thank you for the review. It is a blessing to have resources like this especially when going through difficult times and having children and feeling like you’re doing them harm.

    1. Hi Wendi, you’re welcome and I’m glad this was of interest and value to you! Ya know, I think we always worry we are harming our children and that can also happen in intact families where we make mistakes. This book really does help with reminding us of the simplest ways to help our children adapt to change (could be divorce or any other major change or loss in a family).

  2. This sounds like it can be a useful book. I like that you honestly shared a part you disagreed with and explained why, even by telling us about your own experience. Great review!

  3. I love the summary and I appreciate your honest review. As you know, we have very close friends who got divorced in the last two years, and is still very hard for the children. I would love to show them this book!

  4. I will definitely pass this along to friends of ours who are going through the process now. They are actually getting along so I can see them reading this together which would be more helpful. thanks for sharing Lisa!

    1. That’s great, Kim. I’ll also add your name to the draw. If you win, you can pass it on to your friends. Nice to hear of an amicable divorce! 🙂

  5. Great honest review, Lisa. This sounds interesting and I certainly know a lot of people who can benefit from something like this… i also respect and appreciate that there are real-life case studies in there as opposed to assumptions on parenting, which I think you always need when it comes to a book like this. Can’t be easy and I’m sure that in any divorce there are a lot of things that can be highly damaging to kids. Great idea to have divorcing parents read this together <3

    1. Hey Charlotte, the case studies are sprinkled throughout the book to show true life examples of some of the parental oversights. It would be really helpful for someone going through this right now. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thanks for the book review — as I have said before and I will say again — I wish you had been around back in the day for me! I will not put my name in the box for the book because I don’t know anyone going through a divorce, and would rather someone who needs the book have the shot.

    I am interested in the part you took exception to — the idea of one parent alienating the other. Sometimes, a civilized divorce just doesn’t and can’t happen. In my case, there was abuse, etc., and yet, I really made an effort not to alienate my son from his “sperm donor”. I had read at the time (probably from Dr.Spock or Dr. Berenbaum) that it was very important, especially for a six year old boy, to have a good opinion of his father, so I tried, I really did. However, the “sperm donor” showed his true colors regularly, and my son developed his own opinion of the situation with no help from me. When he was about 30, he wrote him a “divorce letter” but has relented somewhat. Now that the “sperm donor” is in his 80s and poor health, he went to see him one last time recently, at no small expense and trouble, since they live on opposite sides of the world. He told him he would not be back.

    I do think that families who manage a civilized divorce are very lucky.

    1. Hi Ellen, thanks for reading and sharing your experience. Your ex is a great example of causing the alienation himself either from apathy (not making time for the child) or bad behavior. All you can do is encourage the relationship and sounds like you did all the right things for your son. I’m sorry your son didn’t have his father in his life when he wanted him but hopefully he has closure now after his last visit. It must’ve been hard for both of you, while he was growing up. I agree, when I hear of or see a ‘happily divorced’ couple it makes my heart smile.

  7. Lisa, I appreciate the mammoth efforts that you have been making at helping those who have no choice left… but divorce! I know this is another such benevolent act…reading such a book when your own children are grown up into fine individuals, requires a special effort as it is really painful to relive the memories and situations through such a book!

    I must say you have written a wonderful and candid review. I have seen children suffer even in the dysfunctional families. So it is better to understand how important love and affection is to children though they don’t acknowledge the sacrifices when they grow up. I know somebody who turned around and told his mother – ‘why didn’t you divorce, you chose this life, don’t pass on the blame to me’!!!

    1. yes, it definitely brings back painful memories. I had to skip some of the survey stories but I know if I was starting my divorce, I would appreciate those stories 🙂 Children can suffer in intact families just as much as in broken homes…I really loathe that term ‘broken home’ but it seems to be a catch phrase.

      Love and affection are the most important elements to give our children.

      Oh, that’s interesting and fair enough. If you make a decision to stay in an unhappy marriage ‘for the children’ then don’t blame them later for your unhappiness. A great message, Balroop. Also, it’s never too late to start a new life—many couples are calling it quits and moving on after the children are gone. Regardless, it’s never an easy decision to make. Thanks for sharing here, Balroop!

  8. Divorce can be a very tough thing to go through, but with children, it’s even MORE difficult. Fortunately we didn’t have children in my first marriage. Not only is it tough during the divorce, but you’re bound to your ex for life. I have no reason to ever speak to my ex again.

    1. So true, Stephanie! Much simpler to go separate ways when children aren’t involved (and even that isn’t easy). So you had a clean break? Excellent! 😀

    1. Thanks, Kim! Yes, it’s always great to hear about a new self help divorce book out there for those struggling (and I think we all do during divorce).

  9. Hi Lisa! Great review! I’m very interested in the book giveaway–am I too late? <3

    I also pause at the blame the victim chapter–that stings my PTSD to no end. I get that there needs to be a way to distinguish people who are falsely claiming PAS, but that doesn't mean it isn't real for the people that are experiencing it. The line of thinking you're describing that the author is taking isn't too far from cases of domestic violence (it's the victims fault, they shouldn't have stayed!), and that scares me.

    So glad to hear there is another resource out there that focuses on the children…I'm very interested in hearing the children's stories in their own words. <3

    1. Hi Jane, of course you’re not too late 🙂 I will put your name in the draw for sure! I can understand how frustrating that is for you, whereby professionals put responsibility on the victim. Unfair. Ridiculous. It’s only a few pages in that chapter where he discusses PAS, you could skip those few pages over. The basic message and tips are valuable and yes, the stories are REAL.

  10. Wow Lisa, you wrote such a thorough review and I appreciate that so much. It sounds like a very helpful book and it would be such a good gift to someone who is experiencing this difficult circumstance with divorce and wanting to help their children.

    I don’t need to be in the giveaway, I’d much rather see it go to someone who needs it right now. <3

  11. Hi Lisa,

    You have written a wonderful review on this book! Divorce with children involved is so complicated and there needs t be more books and education about it.

    This book brings out the importance of children of divorce and how the adults must step up and realize what they are feeling.

    It sure did bring back memories …


    1. Thanks, Donna! Yes there should be even more resources out there. I liked the approach in this book where the author gives life examples of mistakes divorcing parents make. They’re all too common but he also gives ways to fix these errors and get relationships back on track with our children. Thanks for reading and sharing here, Donna 🙂

  12. Hi Lisa,

    This sounds like it could help a lot of parents going through a divorce. I’m sure both parties can agree on that one thing – the children come first.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the book. Have a great week.


    1. Hi Cori, so true that parents often agree on putting the kids first but then things start to happen. The childrens’ needs get forgotten in the chaos at times. Best of intentions…

      Have a great week!

  13. This book sounds like it would be a great guide for parents going through a divorce. I will mention it to my daughter. The father of her baby left when their child was only three, and now my little granddaughter has a LOT of questions.

    1. Hi Marcia, aw I’m sorry to hear that. Although it may very well be that your daughter is doing just fine without. I guess your granddaughter sees the other children with their ‘daddies’ and she wonders why she doesn’t have one. At least she has her ‘granddaddy’ 🙂

  14. I really enjoyed your review! I saw this man on Dr. Phil and found out he was on staff there. Since my background is in Social Work, I would love to read this book and add it to my library. I am fascinated about your review involving “parenting alienation” as a friend went through this with her divorce. You are right on the mark. I also loved that you commented about the amount of people the author surveyed as that information is important in any assessment and makes me want to read the book more. Kudos to you!

    1. Hi Cheri, thank you for stopping by and reading. I haven’t seen the author on Dr. Phil but I’m not surprised he’s made appearances. I’ve already drawn the winners, Cheri but you can certainly get an advance copy via Amazon or add it to your goodreads TBR shelf.

  15. I just watched the Dr. Phil show. I want to read this book but have no money to buy it. Long story short…Dec. 10, 2016 my husband called me in a rage and said he was going to kill me and my family. He is a narcissist and after 21 years of marriage and a beautiful 15 year old son I decided back in September to finally be done. Anyhow I went to the police, they arrested him for domestic threat and menacing. He spent a night in jail and has had a no contact bond on him since his court date 12-14-16. Needless to say it has been wonderful not having my phone blown up by him and his roller coaster ways. The sad thing is my wonderful awesome 15 year old son has “stopped living” since his dad has no where to stay. He doesn’t go to track practice or hang with his friends. My car is going to be repossessed next week my cell is going to be turned off thursday. He cut me off of money. I have no job since September (when I found out of yet another infidelity). I have come to learn and read a lot about I have been verbally and emotionally abused by a narcissist all these years. He has indeed manipulated my son and the roles have changed as the Dr. C. said my son is parenting him. Poor dad who is so distraught and has no where to go. So I reached out to the prosecutor and probably tomorrow the judge will amend the part of his bond allowing him to move back into the home and I will move into my sister’s home. I cannot see my son depressed and feeling responsible for his father’s happiness. Another trait of a narcissist, if they are not happy no one is around them! I know this is true because it has been my life. I have no money, no job, no self esteem or confidence. So I will leave here tomorrow with no material things. But I will be free of him controlling me some day. I am praying for my son to be able to relax and get back to living as I pray and talk to him to respect people and treat people good in his future. I have God, my adult daughters and grand babies, my beautiful 15 year old young man and my family. I stayed and came back all these years to give my son a nuclear family unlike my daughters’ lives since their father and I divorced when they were young. Anyhow sorry to be so long winded. I would so appreciate being entered in to win this book. Thank you for your review. This was my first time to your website. Dawn

    1. Hi Dawn, I’m sorry you’ve been through so much in such a short period of time. I hope your son is able to re-focus on his own life and simply be a teenager and not worry about adult problems. Unfortunately, I have already completed the name draw. Stay safe above all else and take it one day at a time. It’s good you have your sister to stay with until you get back on your feet.

  16. Thank you for your review of this book. My daughter and her ex-boyfriend have a child and are no longer together. The ex-boyfriend has primary placement of the child and my daughter struggled with drugs. She has been clean for over two years now. Visitation had been going really well until the ex-boyfriend got a new girlfriend now he won’t let my daughter see her, blocks phone calls, etc. Me as the mother/grandmother is very difficult. After seeing Dr. Phil’s show I thought this would be a great book for both of them to read and to put the child first. Thank you again for your review.

    1. Hi Lori, that’s not fair to your daughter. If they both read the book that would certainly help the situation. I’ve already done the name draw 😒 But you can get it by clicking on the link. The ebook is reasonably priced and worth the cost. All the best to you!

  17. I have 10 year old twin grandsons who have just recently been through a divorce. They also have Aspergers and their father is causing problems because he doesn’t want them on medication. I need this book for my daughter and grandchildren. I would buy it but I’m unemployed at the moment.

    1. Hi Paula, the book giveaway has already been completed. Click on the link to Amazon for the ebook which will be less money than the physical copy. I hope things work out for your family. You could also go to your local public library for other resources on co-parenting during divorce (for free).

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