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Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.
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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed in Massachusetts as both a psychologist and marriage and family therapist and has been in practice for over 35 years. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1968 and began her career as a junior high school English teacher. At that time, there were no accommodations for children who found school challenging and so became challenging themselves. She found herself increasingly interested in those students and their families and went back to school at the University of Massachusetts for a masters degree and then a doctorate in psychological education. Still not satisfied that she knew what she needed to know to help families, she went on to the Alfred Adler Institute in Chicago for another masters degree, this time in counseling.

On completing her education, Dr. Marie started a successful group private practice, specializing in family and couple therapy. She also founded a local drop-in center for parents of children under the age of five in order to give new parents a place to meet and support one another and to get expert advice. Over the course of her career, she has been an administrator of a community mental health clinic, the supervisor for a large clinical staff, and the director of a clinical team serving people with intellectual disabilities. Currently, she is a psychologist with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (formerly the Dept of Mental Retardation) and teaches classes on intellectual disability and mental health at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, both on campus and online. During the summer, she also teaches Family Therapy at Westfield State University. She has received awards from the Girl Scouts, Zonta International, and her town’s Chamber of Commerce, among others, for her service to her community. She is a regular contributor to

Dr. Marie has authored newspaper and web articles and advice columns for the general public, articles and books on classroom discipline for teachers, and various programs for schools and industry. Web articles currently appear on,, and, among others. Over the course of her career, she has made hundreds of presentations at professional conferences, school in-service programs, and parent group meetings.
Dr. Marie and her husband of 43 years have raised four children who are now young adults. They live and work in western Massachusetts.

Dr. Marie's e-book series, Tending the Family Heart, can be found at and
Visit her online at

Entries by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

Your Child Should Never Be Your Shoulder to Cry On

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 6:33 PM

Yes, it's tempting. When feeling betrayed, upset, angry and distraught, some divorcing (and divorced) parents can't resist the temptation to use the child who lives with them as their shoulder to cry on and their confidante. These parents burden their children with tales of their ex's excesses, sins and "issues."...

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Visiting Kids: Tips for Non-Custodial Parents

(0) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 2:02 PM

If you are a non-custodial parent who lives far from the children, visits can be complicated. Whether you are looking forward to a late summer visit, or to the winter holidays or maybe to a spring school vacation, the issues are the same. The parent wants to use the visit...

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Remarriage and Renewal

(0) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 12:09 PM

Many parents and children who felt bruised and battered following the break-up of the original family find healing and satisfaction in the new start promised by remarriage. In fact, 70 percent of divorced Americans remarry with optimism and hope that things will be different the second time around. The new...

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Yes, You Can Be a Good Dad (Even if You Didn't Have One)

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 12:48 PM

Did you grow up without a father? You're not alone. Every year, over a million kids experience their parents' divorce, leaving many with only a part time Dad or without one. According to 2005 statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau in August 2007, there were approximately 21.2 million children...

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The Kid Connection

(1) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 9:35 AM

It's a fact. If you have children, you and your children's other parent are always connected. No matter how disappointed, angry, or sad you are about the break-up of your marriage, you and your ex are still related to each other, by blood if your children are bio-kids, by the...

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Start Summer Planning Now

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2014 | 2:04 PM

It's April. Have you made your summer plans yet? As every parent knows, school vacation for kids is often not a vacation for their parents. Without the routine and structure of the school day, we have to plan for every minute of every day if the kids are to be...

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When Grandparents Divorce

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 4:34 PM

It's been called the "graying of divorce." Divorce among those age 50 and over has more than doubled since 1990, now affecting one in four such marriages. If you are a grandma or grandpa who is in the process of divorce, be aware that your grandchildren will probably be affected,...

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Divorce and the Child With Special Needs

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 4:40 PM

All children are vulnerable when parents divorce. Children with special needs are even more so. But with special attention to their uniqueness and special needs, they too can cope and thrive.

1. Don't blame the child for your divorce. Conventional wisdom has it that having a child with special needs...

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What if Your Ex Shows Up at Holiday Parties

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 3:37 PM

One of my client's (let's call her Libby) was stressing. Divorced for less than a year, she hadn't yet had to negotiate a holiday season and holiday events. She and her ex had mutually agreed to their divorce but she was still dealing and healing. They only talked when handing...

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Reconnecting With Children You Left Behind

(0) Comments | Posted November 6, 2013 | 5:17 PM

Whatever the reason, it's a sad situation for both parent and child when a parent drops out of the picture in the wake of a divorce. The child, even a hurt child, may feel abandoned and lost. It's not unusual for kids who have been left to wonder if there...

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Start Holiday Planning Now!

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 2:57 PM

School just started a couple of weeks ago, and Halloween is still a few weeks away. But smart divorced couples with children start planning now for the holiday season. This is especially important if last year's schedule didn't work very well. The kids will start getting anxious about a possible...

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Divorced and Going Back to School

(1) Comments | Posted August 26, 2013 | 2:43 PM

Mandy dropped out of college her freshman year of college when she found she was pregnant. She and her boyfriend quickly married and just as quickly divorced. Since then, she has been single parenting and waitressing to make ends meet. It's been hard. Sometimes it's been very hard. But waitressing...

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Sometimes a Child's Refusal to Go With You Is a Test

(0) Comments | Posted July 31, 2013 | 11:58 AM

For some children, divorce calls into question the very nature of parental love. The child may think to himself, "If my parents can decide they don't love each other anymore, maybe they can stop loving me. If they can decide they don't want to live together anymore, maybe they also...

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Sending the Kids on Summer Vacation With Their Other Parent

(0) Comments | Posted July 2, 2013 | 12:49 PM

For many divorced parents who live at a distance from their ex, summer time means an extended time without their children. Yes, it can be hard. But it is also part of being this kind of family -- divorced parents who care about and love their children but live far...

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Summer Vacation for the Blended Family

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2013 | 11:54 AM

The brochures make it all look so fun and easy. A family sits cozily around a campfire toasting marshmallows. Another picture shows a dad and kids frolicking in the waves at a beach. Still another shows kids laughing and smiling on a theme park ride while parents smilingly wave. Ah....

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When Should A Stepparent Step In?

(9) Comments | Posted April 30, 2013 | 12:00 PM

Here is a question I'm often asked: What point, if at all, should stepparents start disciplining their spouse's children? My answer? As soon as you move in together or are married. Why? Because as soon as the stepparent is alone with the kids in the course of normal family life,...

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Introducing Your Children to Your New Love

(30) Comments | Posted March 27, 2013 | 12:03 PM

You've been through a hard divorce and recovery. You've met someone and want to start dating. You want desperately to have a social life again that isn't centered on parents and children. And yes, you wouldn't mind a little love and intimacy after what seems like forever. But then there's...

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Why Your Kids Resist Liking Your New Partner

(17) Comments | Posted February 28, 2013 | 11:36 AM

You've been divorced for several years. You've been busy with your job, young kids, and trying to keep ahead of the household chores. You've got a few good friends but, the truth is, you've also been longing for intimacy. At last you've met someone special. You're delighted to feel those...

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Part Time Presence, Full Time Parent

(21) Comments | Posted February 7, 2013 | 1:32 AM

"Visiting". It's a word that many parents and professionals have come to hate. The non-custodial parent is given "visitation" with his or her kids. For years, that translated into every other weekend and some holidays. Meanwhile, the other parent had full responsibility and the full measure of the pleasures and...

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Divorced, But Fathering Well

(138) Comments | Posted January 4, 2013 | 11:20 AM

If you are a dad who has gotten past the anger, hurt and disappointment of divorce and who wants to be an equal parent despite living apart, this article is for you. It is not for those who are so angry or hurt that they can't manage involvement. It's not...

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