Growing up my parents always told me I would go to college someday and become a lawyer. The reason? So one day I could handle their divorce.
At the time, it seemed like a big joke to me. Turned out, they weren’t joking. When I hit fourteen, their dream of me getting a law degree quickly turned into filing for a divorce decree.
Crazy as it sounds after the initial shock wore off, I never really gave much thought to how my parent’s divorce changed my life. Times were tough and we needed to survive. So I quickly adopted a “it is what it is” attitude put my big girl panties on and kept moving forward. While my parents split was hard, given how things played out it was pretty clear them staying together wasn’t such a hot option either.
It wasn’t until much later in life that the impact of divorce really hit home for me.
At the ripe age of 28, when I said, “I do” to the love of my life, I also signed up for a lifetime gig as bonus mom (aka stepmom) to two amazing kids.
Unfortunately in the “early years” the relationship between our home and their mom’s house wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies. Actually there were plenty of days when the conflict cast a pretty dark shadow over our family. Life felt heavy, messy and ridiculously complicated. At times I felt emotionally drained, resentful, angry and helpless. I knew if it felt that way to me, it had to feel ten times worse for our kids.
With a Masters degree in Social Work in my back pocket, I began searching for anything that could help us do this co-parenting thing better.
Once I started digging in, I discovered that most of the information available for families like us was vague, impractical and didn’t mesh with real life.
Whether it was divine intervention or just a stroke of dumb luck, before I knew it I was teaching court-mandated courses to separated and divorcing parents. In those classes, I met tons of parents, like me, who felt the odds were stacked against them. They knew they needed to put their kids first but just didn’t know what to do or how to do it.
Initially what started out as a part-time stint soon blossomed into a full-time passion.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that even the very best class only scratched the surface.
There needed to be more.
From that point forward, it’s been one wild ride. In 2001, I launched my first website with the intention of cutting through the noise and making good information available to parents.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching, coaching and talking to thousands of parents all across the globe. Along the way, I’ve also been blessed with some amazing opportunities (most of which I never saw coming.) My work has been featured in the British documentary series, How to Divorce Without Screwing Up Your Kids. I have created and produced a children’s DVD video program about divorce, written a book for parents, have been honored with privilege of addressing the Scottish Parliament to advocate for children of divorce, helped launch a national initiative in England for separating parents and continue to be an active member of the creative team for the children’s divorce documentary, SPLIT.
In my day to day life, I do my best to practice what I preach (which some days is a lot tougher than I’d like). I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, fell off of the “good co-parenting” wagon and had to work hard to get back on again. Since my husband is a traveling man, I’ve also clocked in a lot of hours as a married single parent.
Parenting is without a doubt a labor of love. No matter how smart you are or how much experience you have, I believe when the SHTF, there’s a learning curve for all of us.
I completely get that what I ask my clients to do often feels harder than hard. Asking for help, digging deep and taking a look at those dark, messy places in your life, takes a lot of courage. Owning what’s yours, while biting your tongue and staying focused on your kids requires more than will-power it takes a lot of commitment.
I have profound respect for the parents I coach and continue to feel incredibly honored when people choose to work with me. Throughout my career, I have met some amazing parents and continue to feel humbled by their bravery, insight and unwavering dedication to getting it right for their kids.
My husband and I have four children together (two bonus and two bio) who in the blink of an eye have all transformed into adults and are finding their own way in the world.
I’m happy to report that over the years, we’ve managed to get to the other side. When my bonus son got married and my bonus daughter graduated from college, both sets of parents proudly sat together to celebrate our children.
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