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Beth McCormack 19:38

Well, first of all, I say God willing, they have therapists themselves and lean on you or the that being the child’s therapist or the your own therapist because they have the best information. I always tell clients that they have to rehearse it. Ideally, they You will have worked on it together just this week, I had a woman tell me that the husband blurted it out, almost as if what are we having for dinner? Literally, she said, not even sitting down, kind of on the run and saying, you know, this isn’t your fault. It’s only Mom and I are going to figure it out, we’ll let you know what’s happening. And kind of literally walking through the room. Well, you and I talked about, we have kids who have come back and told us that this day impacted them, much like 911 impacts us as humans, that they have never forgotten what the words were that dad said, they have never forgotten what mom’s face look like, you know, the details that they recall of that moment. So if everyone stops and pause, pauses and thinks about that feedback, before you tell your child, of course, you should rehearse it. Of course, it’s awkward. And inevitably, those people who rehearse it, it never goes the way that you want it to. That’s life, right? If it was a rehearsal, please. So inevitably, clients have shared that, you know, the teenage girl that they expect to go off the rails is not only not going off the rails, she was the calm one. But they expected this child, who was the calm one, to stay calm, and he’s the one who lost it. So the stories are endless and tragic. So, so much thought should be going into this with families. And it’s just not.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 21:32

I also think, you know, sometimes parents don’t realize until until you explicitly say, you know, it’s really ideal if both of you can be having this conversation, agreeing about the terminology you’re using and what you’re exactly sharing or not sharing, you know, and still, like you said, Sometimes one parent says, No, I got this, and I’m gonna do it myself. You know, and so just the idea that the children and the parents are together, having that conversation together. And it may not be one conversation, right, and maybe a series of conversations, but But I agree, I think that more emphasis should go on the importance of how they share it, at least at first, knowing that it’s going to evolve and and be more conversation as time goes on.

Beth McCormack 22:18

It should definitely be joined in any parent, again, if you’re GAL, and you’re making recommendations, any parent who does that unilaterally without at least telling the parent again, that’s, that’s really cool. That’s a level of cruel, that tells a lot about them as an individual, and that they’re not being child centered in any of their decisions.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 22:42

Right. And a lot of this sets the tone, you know, for the rest of the process, because we know I mean, many many families get divorced, right? Many parents get divorced. And, and some of the kids really do. I mean, it’s always it’s always very difficult at first, but many kids are just fine in terms of their resiliency, and others really suffer, you know, from the psychological effects. But I said it’s really about how the parents handle it and, and what it looks like, it’s not just divorce in and of itself.

Beth McCormack 23:11

No, 100%. You know, Robert Emery’s Book One childhood two homes I hope I didn’t butcher it here but the basic concept that you as a clinician and those of us who work child centered, just tell parents the only thing that affects the outcome of this child is your ability to get along. And the your, to the extent you can fake it like literally anything you do. As a divorced mom, myself, I can tell you, I am forever refocusing on the positives and making dad building data, because kids kind of innately like to split. That’s, I mean, we all did it, right. We work parents in an intact household just the same, right? And we’re just giving them more opportunity to do that. So the more parents can align. And the inevitably, you know, when you’re doing these investigations, you’ll be like, hey, if I’m, if I’m interviewing Mom, I’ll say can you give me three things positive about Dad? Nope.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 24:22

Married and have kids is one.

Beth McCormack 24:25

We procreated these beautiful children are ours and I can’t come up with one thing. Oh, he’s got nice blue eyes. You know, that’s just heartbreaking. And that’s when we start talking about doing some mandated counseling.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 24:41

Right. And the kids are half mom, half dad, they know it right. So when when mom badmouth dad or vice versa, it’s like they feel like there’s a part of themselves being attacked. You know, like, part of me is no good part of me is evil or whatever words.

Beth McCormack 24:54

The exact feedback these children who have grown up they’ve I’m back and told us that that’s what they hear. If you’re if you’re gonna bash mom, all they hear is you’re bashing me, my blood pulled her blood pulses through my veins just like your studs, right? So you don’t you just people don’t stop and think about it. It’s like we teach them, they can’t talk me and about other people, because that reflects badly upon you. But yet you’re doing that, like, it’s just.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 25:26

Right. And you’re sending them to live with that other parent half of the time, presumably, or whatever portion of the time. So like, if they’re evil, or they’re, you know, no good in some way that that’s really a hard, that’s a hard recipe for success for that child to go to that parents house.

Beth McCormack 25:41

Right? Yeah. And it’s just all too common. I was telling you offline, as a GAL. I, it’s so humbling to talk to these kids in the stories. You know, I know exactly where they said, You know, I never forget these kids kind of it anyway. I’ve had several come back. I think I’m up to five now. And they’ve gone to law school themselves, because they want to be advocates for children, for me, but that’s positive on one hand, the other hand is, are you kidding me? That’s the trajectory of their life. So those parents who question that whether this impacts their children, pause and think about that. Right. Right. That’s their memory. Why can’t it be their memory to play baseball and you know, go to a slumber party.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 26:32

Right. Right. No, it’s like a branded in their brains. Yeah, absolutely. So what what other you know, I guess nuggets, can you share and think thinking about, you know, stories of families you’ve worked with, either that have been really successful that you want to share and kind of why, or pitfalls that we, you know, again, listeners can avoid.

Beth McCormack 26:53

Yeah, I know you. A colleague and I, Jason Sposi. I know. He does. He practices similar to me in the in a thoughtful way, and is constantly coming up with creative solutions on how to help couples divorce. And then when we actually do it together, how creative we can be, and we were preparing our own presentation on have a story on how an obvious litigation case meaning the couple’s going to be fighting, turned into a collaborative case, and we were able to get super creative. So in this case, the mother had a serious addiction issue, alcohol, and the data was old enough to understand it, unfortunately. But of course, fortunately, on some level, so around nine or 10, is when the divorce started. And he divorced, simply to keep the daughter safe, because he wasn’t able to figure it out. Well, with this team based approach, we were able to come up with creative solutions. And having her meet with a therapist, who was able to report her her What if anything, she was feeling as far as her own safety. Lots of protocols put in place a parenting schedule that was going to be gradual, so that confidence could be built, sobriety could be determined, there were all kinds of safeguards in place. In court, I often say you’re divorcing with a machete instead of a scalpel. And the only other obvious solution in court would have been to get an order of protection and mom having supervised parenting time, or maybe even only therapeutic. And it’s just ghastly when you think about the market difference. And this, the outcome is beautiful. The parents still talk and work together for this now adolescent, you know, she’s safe, mom can constantly is working on her sobriety, she’s still mad. But the tools are in place to help them because the divorce was going to happen either way. You know, in sharp contrast, if that was in court, it would be an order of protection. And back to what the daughter’s memory of her childhood would be. She didn’t have a voice. She may have been interviewed by a GAL for a half an hour here or there. But this in that process, she was able to have a constant voice to check ins. I think initially wekly and then monthly.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 29:39

And a relationship with mom. Because I have also seen where the mom has just cut off completely deemed unfit. And the child doesn’t have any any contact with the mother, which is also you know, not great.

Beth McCormack 29:51

No. Fostering a relationship even with bad parents, right? I mean, it’s still there. It’s still her mom. Exactly. You And if it is too dangerous, of course, you’ve got to have therapy in place to help process that. Hopefully we don’t have listeners who are dealing with that level of extreme. But there’s a lot in between those two.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 30:12

Absolutely. Absolutely. No, it sounds like, you know, you have so much more control with the collaborative model and with mediation to kind of figure out what works best, you know, for your own family. And still, you know, not not, not have it be like a gamble. What’s gonna happen in court? Right, right. Yeah. So that sounds very successful. What, what are some pitfalls to avoid? When have you seen things go go sour.

Beth McCormack 30:41

So I think it’s important for parents to see that pitfall of prepping and thinking they’re going to out smart the system, so to speak, and those people who are doing the evaluations might not see that their child is being coached or that the because it is obvious to those of us who are in the industry, we know and, and that’s inevitably going to come back and bite that parent. So they can say, Well, all I was doing was preparing her, any parent would do that you prepare her to go to the doctor, you prepare. So I get the concept. But you also know that this is an extreme. So just get yourself in check. So be super careful on that. The other thing that people often say is, well, I didn’t say anything bad about Dad to her, I was just talking to my girlfriend on the phone, right gabbing loudly on the phone. Right? Right. And they do no or, and, and back back to that concept of his blood pulses through his veins too, right? So you got to just be super mindful and instructing other family members, you know, grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, everybody just right? Always talk nicely, right? Because they can do a lot of damage as well.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 32:01

Makes sense. I remember the phrase love your child more than you hate your spouse. Not that we’re saying we want you to hate your spouse, right? If you can get to a therapeutic place, like you said, Truly, in your own therapy of forgiveness, acceptance, you know, whatever. You know, that’s, that’s the first choice. But like you said, if not fake it till you make it right, you still have to try to do the right thing for your child. And like you said, the grandparents as well, the infant on goals, the friends who come over, you know, everyone, because again, you’re hurting your child so much when you’re bad mouthing and gaslighting and all this kind of stuff.

Beth McCormack 32:36

So and then the opposite of that, of course, is to actually foster the relationship and watch your child light up when you say something positive, right? And ask questions that are sweet about how things went rather than interrogating them after a visit. Right.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 32:53

So how is the visit with the smile and wanting to genuinely here is different than you didn’t have any fun, did you? Did he do this thing again, that he always does.

Beth McCormack 33:01

All of that. Or tell me the three best things you did this weekend? And it doesn’t have to be about dad or mom. What was your favorite part?

Dr. Leigh Weisz 33:11

Because some kids will learn to not talk at all about their business and the other parent because they they know that the other parent really doesn’t want to hear or doesn’t approve, or if they had fun, they have to say they have a terrible time. So it’s invalidating to their actual positive experience if they did have fun. And if they didn’t you hope that the other parent is helping foster a better, you know, relationship or a better experience and next visit.

Beth McCormack 33:37

Right, right, right, right. But it’s true.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 33:39

It’s it’s much harder if they’re if the parents are not in their own therapy if they’re not able to get to a place where they’re at peace because of course we know divorce is a very difficult experience on adults. It’s not easy, you know, what we’re asking them to do is not it’s not necessarily easy or natural for for anyone. They are angry. They do have feelings, you know, to the process.

Beth McCormack 34:01

Yeah, yeah, true. Yeah.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 34:04

What kind of software Beth have you seen help in the divorce process? I just remember the one like the Family Wizard I think it was called but I mean, that was years ago. I’m curious if there’s anything currently that is helpful to families as they divorce in terms of communication or parenting schedules, anything like that.

Beth McCormack 34:24

Yeah, everybody’s different as far as what that platform OurFamilyWizard is still the gold standard. So okay, and they’ve done great in keeping up with trends etc.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 34:36

Can you explain a little bit about how that all works.

Beth McCormack 34:39

Yeah, well, the the good news and bad news about it it is a platform that’s easily discoverable those who are in the divorce process know that, you know, everybody’s gonna see who said what, so it’s kind of a babysitter as far as communication skills.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 34:56

Instead of texting or emailing you’re using this platform only.

Beth McCormack 34:59

You know, a lot of court orders say nothing else can happen. So, you know, you’ve got a microscope on you in a divorce period that you add this component. And so a lot of times GALs have ability to log on as well. So we’re actually literally watching it, the discussion. And then yes, there’s shared calendars, there’s shared financial information. You know, it’s it’s as good as it gets. In the perfect world, this family would never need it. Right. A group family threaded, right, you know, so

Dr. Leigh Weisz 35:35

So it’s, again, it’s reserved for more contentious divorces, where, you know, the spouses cannot just text each other or email each other because there’s so much angst that happens in there. But like you said, if it if they are texting horrific, horrible things to each other, and you say, you’re no longer allowed to communicate that you have to do through this family wizard, they’re going to be on their best behavior, essentially, in theory. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Yeah. So and for those who don’t need that level of supervision, what would you say in terms of just communication? Manners? One on one, what would you say to parents as their co parenting?

Beth McCormack 36:13

Just what there’s some funny memes about text? Like, it’s going to be read in court one day, right? Like, you just really have to be smart. Because you are under the microscope. But best practice, you know, I tell parents, for the older kids, you know, put them on the family thread, talk to one another, just like, you know, you want to be spoken to Golden Rule stuff. Embarrassing that you feel like you have to tell people that there’s also I’ve been on group threads with parents as a GAL. So they’re kind of at I’m, I’m watching over and that kind of keeps them on their best behavior. Right. Another role that I didn’t touch upon that’s used in litigation, the concept of parenting coordinator. That’s a whole different role. But a lot of times judges use parenting coordinators, to help families who are in super high conflict, and keep them out of their courtroom. So they’re dealing with some of the smaller stuff, right?

Dr. Leigh Weisz 37:18

¬†Like if someone wants in a different day of vacation, and they want to swap, but the parents aren’t able to work that out themselves, would that be a parent communicate type thing?

Beth McCormack 37:28

That’s a perfect example. And then even, you know, Halloween costumes. And I mean, the stuff that you can’t imagine people fight about, sometimes you feel like just to fight, but it’s sad. It is. The Parenting coordinator role is one that is I, it’s so challenging, that there are people who only do it, and that they have the thick skin for I personally do it sometimes, only for very complex families. You have to give a lot of attention. And in the perfect world, you’re doing that with phone calls, etc. Sometimes there’s so high conflict, you only do tax, it’s wild. Real quickly back to the software. Yeah, Sober Link is another thing that people forget about. But if addiction, alcohol addiction is that issue, super important tool, again, because just because someone has an addiction issue doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad parent. And we can keep kids safe, while still allowing that relationship to flourish.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 37:49

So that that would allow the other parent without the addiction problem to make sure child’s not getting in the car with the parents who might be drinking, is that correct?

Beth McCormack 38:49

In the car, or even be with them. At protocols where, you know, they can just ask on demand to blow and then everybody can see it. Yeah, I’m a long way that way. And again, ideally do it without shame. It’s just these are facts. And the addict will recognize that and do whatever they have to do in order to make everyone feel confident.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 39:13

Well, and the truth is, that’s it’s a wonderful tool, because not only is there the physical safety piece, you know, that’s where my brain went to the driving. But, you know, I’ve worked with kids where they say, you know, Mom acts in a, in a crazy way, she starts raging or screaming, you know, when she even has, you know, however much to drink, and they don’t want to be around her at all. Right? And so, it’s like, how do you tell because sometimes that person can pass like, they, they’re, they’re good, they’re good to go. They grab the kid from the from the driveway, and so, but if the child can sense the differences, you know, that would be a good way to just kind of help that child avoid ever being with that parent when they’re drinking.

Beth McCormack 39:53

That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. And you know, oh, well, it’s just so low that well now No. And then let’s say they blow safe on Friday night. Well, that doesn’t make the other parent feel any better that, you know, Friday at 1130 at night that they’re still not drinking. So that’s what kinds of protocols.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 40:13

Absolutely. Okay, no, that’s super helpful. My my last kind of couple of questions are just about if there’s same thing about books or resources for for the parents primarily.

Beth McCormack 40:28

I have a whole bibliography that I can’t I don’t remember.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 40:31

Yeah, I just remember the good karma divorce from like, again, again and read it a long time ago. But are there any other just one or two that stick out? Or that are really the gold standards.

Beth McCormack 40:43

So the gold standards, I mean, literally, thank goodness, more and more people have written on the topic of the importance of staying out of court. So I would just there are, I mean, literally, I probably see a launch every week of somebody who has written a book so that that’s the good news. We won’t even talk about artificial intelligence and like, oh, my gosh, the information you can find is unbelievable. But Bill Emery, of course, comes to mind as the gold standard on, okay, if you read nothing else, as a divorcing parent reading that book is to me the best. Okay. And then as far as the kiddos to read, you know, all the grief books, I feel like all too often parents think it only applies to children whose parents have passed or have lost. So, thankfully, Lee wrote a book. I still give that book out. Lee, I haven’t told you that in a long time. So sweet. Yeah, it’s great. And you sign them for me, I still have. So anyway, that’s great. And then I also have to push for rainbows for all children. Out there still, but yeah, I’m on the advisory council there. And that program, the stories of facilitators who tell me the kids who come out of it, and how much they help each other. I just love that as a peer support group.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 42:10

That’s wonderful. Yes, you know, that’s super helpful. And, yeah. The when you said about the books about grief and loss, I’m thinking about the invisible string for young young kids, but it’s a beautiful story. And, you know, the the concept of, you know, yes, our family is going through this big shift, this big change, and the parents are now in two homes, but, but I love you, and I’m connected to you, child, wherever you are. So if you’re at dad’s house, or mom’s house, you know that the idea that we’re all connected to those we love, you know, and it works if someone has some separation anxiety at first, but, but the concept is beautiful. And it applies to of course, grief and loss as well. But, you know, this is a this is a loss, right? The intact family. It is like a death. And so it makes sense that those books are also really appropriate. Yeah.

Beth McCormack 43:01

Yeah. Thankfully, there’s more and more resources every day. And again, rainbows and other programs where it not does, it doesn’t normalize it, but it helps them realize they’re not alone. And that these parents have all kinds of tools to share with one another about what it feels like to have a bag and be that kid who has to take their suitcase, you know that those are some sad stories. But anyway, yeah.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 43:30

I would say I’m gonna give one last nugget that just came to mind as you’re talking, and then and then we’ll wrap up. But, you know, for the people who can afford it. Of course, this is not going to be true for everyone, I always think about how parents can have sort of the different supplies at each house so that the kid like that isn’t dragging that bag back and forth, that imagery popped out. So Jim shoes at mom’s house and dad’s house, you know, the the thick math book. So again, I’m not saying that they’re gonna have, you know, whatever expensive, you know, equipment at both houses, but the things that they really can handle in terms of the finances, and that kids really do need, because the amount of fights that parents get into about you forgot that this and you forgot that, and the amount of pressure that the kids feel, especially if they’re not super organized, you know, good with executive functioning, it’s it’s a huge, it’s a huge burden. And so if it’s something little like that, that can just make their lives easier as they start, you know, acclimating and adjusting, of course, like you would hope that they could do that. So that was a little a little bit of advice I wanted to share.

Beth McCormack 44:33

It’s so true.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 44:36

Good. Well, thank you, Beth, so much for being here today. You have always been such an incredible, you know, resource and mentor and role model and you do such incredible work for everyone you’ve ever worked with. So again, thank you for your time.

Beth McCormack 44:53

It’s an honor Leigh, I love that you’re doing this so an incredible resource for those parents who feel all alone they can tune in an then learn all kinds of tips from you.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 45:02

Thank you. I hope so. And one who’s listening check out more episodes of our podcast, go to copingpartners.com and click on podcast and articles. And thank you as always for tuning in.

Outro 45:16

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