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Review: The Single Mum's Survival Guide

How to pick up the pieces and build a happy new life by Vivienne Smith.

I have been practising as a family lawyer for nearly 20 years now having qualified in 1999.  I always thought the term “practising” was hardly professional.  It makes us seem like we are not experts in our field.  However, I am only practising; there are always things to learn and always new ways of assisting clients.  Over the course of the last 18 years family law has changed hugely and how we, as family lawyers practise it has also changed.

It is essential that we keep up to date and that we modernise our practice to ensure that we continue to grow professionally. 

All of this, in my view, is worth very little if we do not put at the centre of our work the clients that we work with.

When a couple separate, whether they are married or living together, their experience is unique to them.  Each separation is different.

Vivienne’s book is about to be republished and I have had the opportunity to review the current issue.

It is divided into chapters with punchy and pertinent headings, all dealing with challenging topics in a hugely informative way, from chapter one which considers “The Breakup, whether it is your decision or his”; to chapter two “Telling the kids” right up to chapter 14, “Being contentedly single and celebrating your achievements”.  The book is full of anecdotes  from mums who have gone through a divorce or separation and give their account of a particular moment in time.

By talking to and including the accounts of people who are experiencing a separation you immediately feel that if you are going through this situation you are not alone and the book as a whole is supportive, comforting and generally very wise.  Not only does Vivienne speak to many single mums but she also quotes from various celebrities and well known individuals throughout.

All in all, if you are a mum experiencing a separation, it provides you with a community that you can feel a part of when perhaps early in the morning or very late at night you may not feel you have got somebody you can ring and have a talk to. 

Professionally Vivienne Smith wears many hats including being a life coach for single mums.   I met her because she is the area organiser of Athena, the ladies networking lunch group.  She is dynamic, energetic and engaging and this comes across in the Single Mum’s Survival Guide.

As a lawyer it is refreshing and helps and reminds me to remember that when I am advising and assisting my clients and they sit in my room, they have a whole life that they are leading with many many problems and many calls on their time, many challenges and many moments of joy and the separation is only a part of what is happening in their life at any one time.

I heartily recommend this book to any single mum but also to any professional working with separated couples and also to dads because we all benefit from hearing the other person’s side now and then.


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