Now this process has been taken one step further. Yesterday the papers were full of the story of Libby Rees. As the Times told it:
It offered children advice such as: "Try to be honest if they ask you questions; it will help them make better decisions", or "Living with one parent almost always means there will be less money. Be prepared to give up some things."
What the book was actually doing was asking children to be sympathetic, understanding, respectful and polite to their confused, unhappy parents; the sacrifice was going to have to come from the children. They were expected to be more mature.
In the world of divorcing dinosaurs, the children rather than the grown-ups were to be pillars of patience, restraint and good sense.
"Surreal" is the right word.
A girl who wrote tips to help children to cope when their parents divorce has won a publishing contract.
Libby Rees, who was nine when she wrote the book, was flown to Scotland with her mother to sign the deal after the company made an offer within 24 hours of receiving the manuscript.
Help, Hope and Happiness includes tips and hints as well as illustrations on the ways she used to cope with the separation of her parents 3Â½ years ago. Libby, now 10, said last night: "It's very exciting. I couldn't believe it when they said 'yes'. I hope it helps other children."
Her mother, Kathryn Loughnan, 41, who works with special needs children, but does not keep in touch with Libby's father, said the trip to Inverness to sign the book deal had been "surreal".
Some will see this as a wonderful affirmation of children's maturity and abilities. To me it looks like the ultimate abdication of adult authority.
We ask children to help one another because we no longer have any confidence that we adults can do anything for them.