Picks and Pans Main: Video
No wonder people are so wary of divorce attorneys. First, this vid fires off scary stats about marital bust-ups. Then we hear how attorney and host Jan L. Warner is one of America's leading divorce authorities. Then Warner himself speaks: "I've seen people crumble because they weren't prepared. "If divorce is war, then lawyers are the generals. Some four-star advice from this general: Clients with routine questions can lower costs by querying their attorney's secretary, who often has the needed information; always build cost-of-living increases into child-support agreements to avoid future court appearances; to fend off credit problems, get charge cards in your own name before leaving the marriage.
Warner's nuggets, however, are larded with too much filler, and his rapid delivery will keep your fingers firmly planted on backup and replay. (Life Management Video Series, $29.95; 800-522-7656)
DIVORCE: BEGINNING THE JOURNEY
The topic—divorce—is painful; the tape is both educational and empathetic. This production is divided into segments featuring professionals who offer advice on the legal, financial, emotional and spiritual dimensions of divorce. Each segment is followed by a checklist of helpful questions to ask the professionals whose counsel you seek.
In addition to guidance from the experts, there are often-moving testimonials from "real people" who have endured and survived. One man describes how he took himself apart and looked at the pieces: "For all the trauma," he concludes, "I came out a better person." This video can't guarantee that result, but it can certainly help smooth the transition. (Evans & Company, P.O. Box 24318, Edina, Minn. 55424)
DIVORCE: AN ATTORNEY TELLS YOU WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
In fairness, it would be hard to produce an interesting video that focuses narrowly on the legal ramifications of a divorce. But this tape is made even more tedious by self-servingly presenting a résumé of its star and host, attorney Gerald A. Roisman, a member of the Executive Committee of the Connecticut Bar Association's Family Law Section. The format is a question-and-answer session between Roisman and a fictional female client. When Roisman is not belaboring the obvious, he is occasionally helpful. He advises litigants, for example, to stick to the issues and avoid emotional vendettas. He also assures clients that they usually need not fear having their children dragged into court—that happens only in extreme cases—and that, L.A. Law to the contrary, most divorce cases never make it to the courtroom either. "Lawyers are not in the business of selling divorces," says Roisman. "The purpose is to help people through some very trying times." Divorce lawyers: selfless, altruistic, dedicated to helping. Mother Teresa, take note. (Roisman Pro-Rep, $29.95; 203-549-4114)
JOHN BRADSHAW ON "SURVIVING DIVORCE"
This video is downright inspirational, not only for those who are uncoupling but for anyone struggling to deal with personal loss. The author, lecturer and creator of the syndicated series Bradshaw On: The Family makes a mesmerizing host as he translates bits of wisdom from Freud, Jung and Einstein into everyday homilies. Bradshaw explains how some of the behavioral patterns we learn from our families can contribute to conflict in our intimate relationships. He condemns the unrealistic "If we love each other, we can make it, baby" messages that society so carelessly dispenses. He emphasizes that where there is love, there is bound to be struggle. And he stresses that all divorced people must allow themselves to release their deep feelings and grieve. Bradshaw will convince many needy viewers that with a lot of hard work, pain can teach and help heal. "Divorce messes up everything," he says, "but when the work is done, life comes back." (Sagebrush Productions, $25; 800-851-9100)
Anyone who thinks that divorce leaves children emotionally crippled should take a look at this video, which seems designed to relieve guilt. In fact it makes a strong case that children of divorce are sometimes better adjusted than kids who grow up in the same house with a battling Mom and Dad.
Jean and Veryl Rosenbaum, a psychiatrist and a lay psychoanalyst, now both retired and living in Durango, Colo., interview an array of parents and children in the aftermath of divorce. The couples' advice is sometimes startling: They suggest that single parents should concentrate on taking care of themselves, rather than the kids, because parents who spend time becoming better people transfer that feeling of well-being to their children. When it comes to discipline, be firm, they say. The strategy of not disciplining your child for fear that you will lose his or her love is a mistake. You don't have to stay in an unhappy marriage, the Rosenbaums argue; you have a right to a happy life and so do your children. (Video 11, $29.95; 800-VIDEO-11)