Children's Letters to the Judge
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Dear Judge

Dear Judge is an absolute MUST read for parents and therapists who have divorce issues, January 15, 2009
By Barry T. Levy, LMFT" North Bellflower Blvd , Long Beach, CA

As a therapist in Long Beach CA, I work with parents and kids who are having divorce issues, problems with parents not getting along, etc. I have listened to kids talk about how they feel for years, but often parents never hear the truth. This book is written by kids to Judges, and expresses how they feel about what is going on. I think this is a MUST read for any parent or therapist or judge or lawyer involved in the process of custody, visitation, etc. and gives a child's point of view that is not confrontational or harsh, so that the parent can develop empathy for the experience of the child. I will assign it to all my clients dealing with these issues. Great contribution., April 29, 2008
By Goldie Charm West of Eden

I wasn't sure children wrote these letters until I showed this book to our school nurse. She assured me these were not the worst she had heard. These letters should be read by all adults who have or work with children.

Great contribution., April 29, 2008
By Goldie Charm West of Eden

I wasn't sure children wrote these letters until I showed this book to our school nurse. She assured me these were not the worst she had heard. These letters should be read by all adults who have or work with children.


Step-Families are Real Families, Gene Hutcheson, Toronto
Dear Judge, is an indispensable view for every adult interested in hearing the concerns of the children of divorce. The vivid picture each letter paints allows an insight rarely offered. When these letters no longer make you laugh and cry it is time to start working with machines.


Fidelity to their Content
Dear Charlotte, Just a note to let you know that my husband passed away this summer. I can not tell you how pleased he was with Dear Judge. He was satisfied with the form his letters took and your fidelity to their content. His fervent hope was that fewer children will have to write letters because of this book. Thank you again. (Name withheld by request)


Interesting Collection
Jeff Jackson, Attorney, Little Rock, AR
An interesting collection for judges, attorneys, mediators, psychologists, parents and all others with an interest in family court.


Really Good
Pat Quinlin, 2001 N.J.
Dear Judge, is really good. Every case involving children should have a special segment where the children can tell the judge how they feel in an atmosphere free of any parental influence.


Changed Me
Allen Sanford, Park City, UT.
I am so sorry. I just did not know how deeply children felt the problems of their parents. Dear Judge has changed the way I deal with my ex-wife and my children.


Articulate Children
Richard Littlehorse, Parent, Step-Parent, Grandparent, 2001 Tulsa, OK
I had no idea how articulate children could be about adult situations, and how those situations affect them. Dear Judge, has made me more aware of little ears sitting close that don't seem to be listening, but are. This may be the most important book I have purchased this year.


True Feelings Without Fear
Teresa Tatum, Baytown TX
I wish I would have had this book when my own custody battle started. Kids should be able to tell their true feelings without fear of what the parents will say or do to them. Just because there is a paper to sign that states where the kids want to live does not mean that is always what is best. Judges need to look at the whole picture not just the legal papers.


Great!
Kathy Clarkson, Ph.D.
Sometimes it takes weeks and months to build enough trust with a child to get this kind of honestly felt comment. I had a notion these letters were out there. Thanks for taking the time to present them in Dear Judge,. Kathy Clarkson, Ph.D.


Truly Moved
Jack Farrell, J.D., M.A.
Dear Judge, is a remarkable piece of work. It looks like I will have to start ordering it in bulk. My associates and clients are truly moved by its message. Dear Judge, delivers the message I have been voicing without much success for twenty years. Even parents who see their children daily could learn a great deal about parenting through this book.


Goes a Long Way
Elizabeth Scott Ph.D., M.S., M.A.
An innovative approach to encouraging a more child-sensitive divorce litigant. I have seen Dear Judge, go a long way towards straightening out some very damaged parent-child relationships. This small book would be a great addition to any pre-divorce class.


Very Interesting
Lucie Kelley
Dear Judge is very interesting, sad and funny. I enjoyed the letters. I also sympathize because I'm a divorced mom of two boys.


Should be read, April 22, 2008
By John Chancellor, Mentor coach, www.teachthesoul.com, New Orleans, LA

This book should be read by anyone directly involved in divorces that involve children.
The book is a collection of letters written by children to the judge handling the divorce/custody case of their parents.
Some letters are funny, some are sad and some will make you cry.
It is such a shame that the parents and their advocates often seem to forget that the children have an interest in the outcome of any divorce/custody case. From these letters it becomes obvious that in many cases the children are pawns used by one or both spouses to take out their rage toward the other.
It is very sobering reading. While I understand the hatred that can develop over a divorce, it seems inhumane for parents to take out their frustrations on the children or to put the children in the middle of a fight. It is well worth reading for anyone dealing with the process of divorce involving children.


Excellent!, September 3, 2007
By bobcat

This book will make you laugh and cry, and in the end will leave sad about the state of families today.
The best argument for family court reform and the end of no-fault divorce I have ever seen.


Heart-wrenching, December 19, 2006
By Sam Vaknin "author of Malignant Self Love - N... Skopje, Macedonia

Children are the real casualties of divorce and custody battles. The most important figures in their lives - their parents - often regress to belligerent and narcissistic infantilism. In their anguish, some kids turn to the only reliable grownup around: the judge.

This is a compilation of c. 190 letters (some of them mere heartbreaking one-liners) allegedly written by children embroiled in court proceedings to judges on the bench. A must read for parents who are contemplating ugly divorces. These quivering voices of tiny shattered lives put in perspective all that we "adults" hold dear and "worth fighting for".                                                                                     Sam Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited".


A publisher has finally given children a voice, December 10, 2006
By Liane J. Leedom, M.D., ParentingtheAtRijskChild.com, Connecticut

Parents choose to bring a child into our world. In making this choice, parents have a solemn obligation to nurture that child and see that he discovers the plan the Almighty has for his life. During the turmoil of a divorce, parents often forget this obligation and may come to view a child as a possession rather than as a person with his own special purpose.

Dear Judge has given a group of children the chance to remind us all that they are people not possessions. Possessions can be divided and shared. Children however, continue to need love and nurturance from those who chose to bring them into the world. Some children may also need to be protected from parents who brought them into the world to exploit rather than to nurture them. Heartbreaking letters from these children may also be found in this book.

Dear Judge is a must read for divorcing parents and those who advise them. It is good reading material for the waiting rooms of legal and mental health professionals. It is my hope that those who write our laws and those that interpret our laws will also read the children's letters. These letters are after all addressed to them.


Excellent Look Into Children's Hearts, November 30, 2006
By Penny A. Zeller, Christian Author and Speaker

"Dear Judge" takes the reader inside the lives of real children facing custody battles. Not only is this a great book for children to see that they are not alone in the difficulties of custody tug-of-wars, but it's also an excellent reference for parents and those who work with children in these type of situations. Ms. Hardwick has done a great job in compiling the real-life letters children have written for this book. As someone who formerly worked with children in such situations, I would highly recommend this book.


Read, Feel, Change, April 28, 2006
By Harm Daluka "Do no Harm"

It doesn't matter if you have children or not or if you are involved in child custody or not, if you read this book you will feel differently and you will change. This book could be pivotal for anyone involved in family law. It needs to be on a DVD to be shown at parenting classes. It needs to be a workbook for teen mothers and fathers. It needs to be required continuing education for mediators, judges and attorneys. Every parent I have shown this book to has adjusted his or her attitude to much more child-centered frame of mind. Attorneys should order it in bulk to bring self-centered parents into line.


A simple book to help with complex feelings, December 19, 2005
By Aunt Laya Saul, www.AuntLaya.com

Divorce is a hard and painful reality for everyone. This thin, easy to read book will open your heart to the children involved. Sometimes it's really hard for a kid to figure out and articulate what the heck they are feeling. The letters in this book will give you a handle on the spectrum of feelings and issues a kid has to deal with.

If you or someone you know is going through divorce, this book might just be a key to open doors to communication with a kid. For sure what a kid (and parent too for that matter) needs in such a difficult time is a dose of loving kindness. With this book you'll smile and cry as you see things through the eyes of the children in these letters to the judge.

If you are a lawyer or psychologist, put this gem in your waiting room for parents to pick up! If you are a parent, open this book regularly for insights into the experience of the child. Then pick up a copy of "How to Go to Visitation Without Throwing Up," a book written by a kid (Joshua Shane Evans) and his step mother, for a companion to make the transitions of visitation smooth.


Making sure that those normally voiceless in a divorce are heard, October 14, 2005
By Kurt A. Johnson, Marseilles, Illinois

Charlotte Hardwick is the author of that most excellent book on American child custody law, "Win Your Child Custody Battle." But, she is also an advocate for the children in a divorce. This book is a collection of letters that were actually sent by the children of divorces to a judge. The letters themselves have the wide range of feelings that the children themselves have. Some are hopeful, some are sad, some are scared, but all come from the heart.

I must say, I found this to be a very touching book. Some of the stories brought a smile to my face, while others brought a lump to my throat. This is a great book for making sure that those normally voiceless in a divorce are heard. I give this book my highest recommendations.


Great book!, August 15, 2005
By sb4peace, Virginia
As a mediator with 10 years of experience assisting separating parents decide custody, visitation and support issues, this book confirms very deeply and personally what I have seen and been told- how parents' actions when separating can have a very deep impact on their children. This book should be required reading for professionals working with separated parents as well parents who are separating and their children.


An Important Book For ALL Parents, July 31, 2005
By Katie "book worm", PA

Although I am not yet a parent, I was intrigued by the issues this book brings to light - as I have known many children who've felt stuck in the middle due to divorce.

This is one of those books that ALL parents can gain insights from! It is a compilation of letters written to a judge by children whose parents were in the midst of a divorce. Some of the letters will actually make you laugh, and others will make your heart hurt. But each one shares important insights into the minds & hearts of children who are dealing with these difficult issues.

This should be used as a handbook for divorcing parents - as it allows a peek into what hurts & what can heal these children who are trying to understand why, and what next...

I would highly recommend this book to all parents, but especially those who are in the midst, or are contemplating divorce. It's an easy, eye-opening read!


Smiling through the Tears, July 26, 2005
By Donald Mitchell "a Practical Optimist", Boston, MA

Children involved in legal separations, divorces and other custodial proceedings find that their lives can become horrible. They see the "adults" in their lives focusing on the legal proceedings rather than on being parents . . . and the "children" often find themselves as the losers in the process . . . being shipped around like cattle.

Some children take the bull by the horns and write to the judge, asking for redress. This book contains their "unofficial" ex parte letters.

Anyone who is about to marry should read this book before taking up the possibility of becoming a parent. All those who decide that they must end their marriages should be required to read this book. Lawyers who work on domestic law should be required to give a copy to their clients.

Legislators should also write new laws to allow judges to take official notice of these currently unofficial documents. Better court orders would surely follow.

Here are some examples of these poignant messages that begin with the salutation, "Dear Judge,":

"When our parents get their divorce do we have to get a divorce too? Sharon and me don't want to divorce our parents. We just want them to get a divorce so they could be friends again."

"Please help me to get to live with my mom and new sister."

"My stepdad explained the Justis Sistem to me. It does not sound right."

"Please have the valuator come back to our house . . . . Tell Miss Hill the dog never peed on anyone before and we will put him outside this time."

"My parents are out of control . . . . I spend more time taking care of my little brother than either of them and I'm not ready for the job. I just want to be a normal kid again."

"I had to write about what we did this summer so I wrote about our divorce . . . . I feel kind of funny but I feel better. You should tell kids to write about their divorce and feel better too."

I felt tremendously sad while reading these tiny tales. But I was also delighted to see that so many children have more sense than their parents, legislators, judges and lawyers. I hope that this book will help children appreciate how to survive divorce in better ways.

May God bless the children of divorce!


Simple Book Explains Kids Struggles in Their Own Language, July 3, 2005
By Edward J Vasicek, Kokomo

This is a great "source book" about how kids feel about their parents' divorce, visitation, and their desperation for things to be "fixed." Each page contains a short letter written to a judge. Some are a few sentences, others a couple of paragraphs.

This is a must read for divorced parents or anyone who counsels with or is in some way involved with children of divorce.

The kids express the frustration of one parent being upset with them if they dared to say they had a good time while staying with the other parent, constantly moving, or parents who cannot treat their former spouses with common courtesy.

Some of the entries might make you cry; a few of them are comical, most of them simply sad.

You'll see their fears (the greatest heartbreak of all), their anger, their guilt (blaming themselves), their sense of helplessness and feeling ignored as divorced parents have an agenda to prove themselves the better of the two.

Readers can probably finish this book in an hour; I read it a bit here and a bit there. Good book.


Ideal gift for a child in a broken home, June 4, 2005
By Robertson Thomas, Hongcheon, Gangweon, South Korea

For 2 reasons, I say that this is an ideal gift for a child in a broken home:

1. The book is easy to read. It is not thick, there are no long and complex sentences, there are no big words, and there is plenty of white space.

2. Many children of divorce, like Joshua Evans, think they are alone, and would appreciate the company from other children like themselves.

And speaking of Joshua Evans, take a look at "How to go to Visitation Without Throwing-Up".


For every divorced parent, May 16, 2005
By C. Yanda "mykidstoo.com" (USA) - See all my reviews

Out of the mouths of kids you will get honesty. This book is chockfull of how kids really feel about divorce, how they feel manipulated at times, and most importantly how much smarter they are about things than most divorced parents give them credit for.


More wisdom here than at a child psychologist convention, May 12, 2005
By JackOfMostTrades "Jack" (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews

"Dear Judge" is a moving, stunning, beautiful book that offers more insight into the hopes, fears, confusion, vulnerabilities, terrors, and needs of children than you are likely to read by any expert. A collection of real children's letters written to a custody judge (who could not use them as evidence in custody battles), these messages are honest and heart-rending in a way that only children can communicate. The letters range from short one sentence pleas to long, articulate reflections. All have one thing in common: they remind us of how powerfully children are affected by family conflict, particularly in situations where parents are undergoing difficult divorce. The irony is that the very family members who are most prone to suffer in a divorce are the ones most likely not to be heard. But this book contains about 100 letters that are more telling than any psychologist's evaluation or lawyer's argument. It is nearly impossible for me to list "favorites." Each one has its own voice and its own means of expressing the vulnerability of each writer, from a simple sad sentence of a lost child simply asking, "Dear Judge, "Are you there" to a report card issued by a child giving "grades" to the judge, mother, father, and attorneys involved in his/her family's divorce. There are enough unsatisfactories to warrant the whole bunch to get left back!

If parents think they can fool their kids by lying or planting seeds of mistrust about the other parent or provide reasons why the child should feel good about living with him or her and NOT the other him or her, they will think twice after reading the wisdom in these pages.


What is often missed is the child's point of view, May 12, 2005
By Dennis Littrell SoCal

Charlotte Hardwick is the author of Win Your Child Custody War: Child Custody Help SourceBook, which is an invaluable aid to parents, lawyers and others involved in custody cases. If you are involved in a child custody dispute, the first thing you should do is get a copy of Hardwick's SourceBook, and then read the letters in this book. You will be amazed at the information the SourceBook contains. It is one of those "invaluable" sources that really is invaluable.

"Dear Judge" is an entirely different sort of book but one with a similar intent, that of seeing custody disputes from the child's point of view. Hardwick has compiled a selection of their actual letters to judges (whom they--usually!--hold in the highest regard) and published the letters in this little book. She has excluded those that are too heart-wrenching, or as she phrases it, are "too dispiriting to print." What the letters have in common is the innocent and (nearly!) guileless efforts of the children to have their voices heard. Unfortunately, while most of these letters were actually read by judges, the judges were often unable to consider the requests of the children because, as Hardwick puts it, "Any communication arriving on a judge's desk that has not followed the proper procedure, cannot be considered by the judge."

What struck me most poignantly about what the children wrote is the fact that for the most part they don't blame either parent, nor do they take sides in the dispute, but instead concentrate on telling the judge what is wrong with the custody arrangements that were agreed to and offer ways to fix the situation. In some cases the children just express how unhappy they are because of the divorce and how much they love both their parents and how much they wish there was some way to get the parents to stop fighting and hating each other.

That is the essence of what these kids are expressing. While the parents are emotionally bent on WINNING at all costs and sometimes filled with hatred toward the other, the children are caught in the middle because the parents often forget what is best for the child. The bottom line in all custody disputes (as Hardwick emphasizes in her SourceBook) is the welfare of the children. What this little book does is remind us of that fact. Here's a little letter that says it all:

"Dear Judge, I don't think what is going on for me is the same as what is going on for my parents. I don't know who is right. I don't care who is right. Clare C."

I think a lot of good might be done if every parent currently caught up in an acrimonious custody dispute would simply take a few minutes to read through these letters. And it wouldn't hurt for some judges to read them as well.


An enlightening compilation., May 11, 2005
By Sherry Russell "Reviewer/author", Grief Management Consultant, Midwest Book Review, Vero Beach, Florida

Children's hearts are so many times treated as a sub-text of divorce. They are many times the forgotten sufferers in parental conflict and the court system. This diverse collection of letters spotlights the thoughts and emotions ranging from distress to humor. They give an insight to how children become efficient little workers trying to understand ways to benefit their family, their situation and to understand a system that is confusing to most of us adults.

One of my favorites is a letter from a young fellow who has the solution to the courts problems with children of divorce. He decides he should become a kid who lawyers other kids. After all, he points out; no one else is listening to the kids so perhaps this would work. This is truly an enlightening compilation.

The letters in Dear Judge: Kid's Letters to the Judge are bumper stickers for your heart.


Heartbreaking, May 9, 2005
By Patricia Kay "author and avid reader", Houston, TX

I could hardly stand to read this book, yet once I started, I couldn't put it down. Personally, I think the book should be required reading for any couple contemplating marriage and children. The book consists solely of actual letters written by kids to judges in family court. Filled with love and anguish, the letters brought tears to my eyes. These poor kids. It's a horrible shame what we adults have put them through. In one letter, a kid writes, "I want you to undivorce my Mom and Dad. It's just not working out for me." This says it all. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


A Book for All Parents, May 5, 2005
By Sandra McLeod Humphrey "Children's Author and..., Minnetonka, MN

The letters in this book are all real letters written by real kids expressing their honest feelings about divorce and they give the reader much food for thought. In some cases the kids seem more mature and more responsible than their parents, and one of the most important messages I gained from this book is that we must take the time to listen to our kids--really listen to them with our hearts as well as with our ears. A most revealing and insightful glimpse into the minds and hearts of our children. Highly Recommended!


A must read..., May 3, 2005
By Barbara Donahue Author, "The Anti-Rules, Now That You've Got Him, How Do You Get Rid Of Him?" , Los Angeles, CA

This book is amazing. It empowers children to feel they can make a difference in their own lives. The letters should make everyone think before they act..they are thought provoking and heart wrenching.


Wake up call, April 15, 2005
By Amazonbombshell, Milwaukie, OR

DEAR JUDGE broke my heart many times. I have never been through a divorce or on any side of a custody battle, but I have seen the long- and short-term effects on friends at school (from elementary up through college), children I work with, and on my own husband, who went through a very messy divorce and custody battle between his parents, beginning at age 12.

Reading these plainly presented letters to a family court judge from children of all ages, I found myself beginning to understand what it must be like to be so powerless and so scared. The letters come from children in situations ranging from not-quite-right-anymore to terrifying and abusive, but the reader gets the sense that all of these children have been wronged in the same way: their true selves have been ignored.

Adults forget what it is like to be a child, and we also forget that children notice and absorb nearly EVERYTHING we say and do. These letters prove how much kids really know, and how much they can teach their parents and caretakers, the justice system, and society in general. All parents should read this book, most particularly those who have divorced a spouse with whom they had children. And older kids might benefit from these letters, too. They might be helped by reading what other kids have gone through, and knowing that they are not alone.

The book's format is very simple: two pages of introduction telling why it was written, followed by over a hundred letters to the judge. I thought initially that it might benefit from some in-depth discussion and concrete suggestions for adults, but perhaps that is best left to therapists and the deeper books they write. These letters, unadorned, are incredibly powerful, and if you have ever loved a child, they will touch your heart and change the way you think about kids.


Touching, Sad, Distressing & Important, April 14, 2005
By Adam Sacks, Calabasas, CA

This book is touching and sad but also very important to read. Parents doing through divorces are hurting their children for the long term in so many ways. Listen to their voices in this book, it's sad and touching. Divorce doesn't have to be this bad.


Required reading for parents, judges, attorneys, September 27, 2004
By Harold McFarland, Florida

Filled with short letters from children to the judge, "Dear Judge" will at times make you laugh and at times make you believe in the family court system, but mostly it will point out the ways the court system and parents fail to take a child into consideration. When a young child has a question they generally turn to their parents, but when the parents say they can't take them somewhere, or see them more often, or otherwise satisfy the needs of the child because the court system constrains them they have to take other measures. These children took their pleas to the judge. Encouraging, disheartening, and enlightening, "Dear Judge" should be read by judges, parents, and attorneys alike.


From the minds and mouths of the innocent, September 11, 2003
By Jeanne Sinclair Krause "Jeanne Sinclair Krause", Thousand Palms, CA

Charlotte Hardwick has done a real service to families by sharing these delightful letters from innocent children who find themselves caught up in custody cases. If only parents could read them BEFORE going to court.
I laughed; I cried; and I learned from the viewpoint of the most innocent victims in custody cases--the children. "Dear Judge" has earned a permanent place in my personal library.


Ouch! I didn't know children saw so much., May 12, 2003
By A Customer

Great piece of work. I can see their faces and feel their hearts in these letters. I wanted more and could not have handled more at the same time. Buy this one and then try to keep your friends from walking off with it.


Fear, anger, confusion, love, grief and hope, January 12, 2003
By Joanna Daneman Middletown, DE

This is a slim volume of actual letters written by children to the judge in divorce/custody suits. It is a sad little commentary in the real voices of those who are most hurt by marriage break-ups.
As a guide to parents facing separation, divorce, shared or sole custody, or blended families, it is probably invaluable, as well as being a very touching book to read. For anyone not in those situations, whether judge, lawyer, caseworker or even just a member of society watching families dissolve, this is a education about the feelings of the most vulnerable members of our society--children.

My favorite letter (among so many good ones):
Dear Judge,
....Grandpa said that just because my parents are big that doesn't mean they are grown up.
He promised as soon as they are grown up they will take care of me again. Grandma said he is telling me the truth.

Your friend,
TD


Dear Judge TOC

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