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Episode 97 - Top Ten Things Kids Wish They Could Tell Their Divorced Parents with Jay and Tammy Daughtry

Episode 97 - Top Ten Things Kids Wish They Could Tell Their Divorced Parents with Jay and Tammy Daughtry Image

11/20/2018 9:47 am

Co-parenting both during and after a divorce is hard work. Sometimes, it is easier to just let loose how you really feel, rather than continuing to maintain civility. Other times, parents feel 'obligated' to tell their children what 'really happened' in the marriage. If you truly want to do the right thing for your children and need a little motivation, you will want to listen to this show. Jay and Tammy Daughtry have been operating CoParenting International since 2004. Over the years, they have worked with countless families and children. They put together the Top Ten Things Kids Wish They Could Tell Their Divorced Parents. It is a very powerful message that all divorced and divorcing parents should hear.

Transcript

Leh Meriwether:             Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on The New Talk 106.7.

                                         Here you will learn about divorce, family law, how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis, and from time to time, even tips on how to take your marriage to the next level.

                                         If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at AtlantaDivorceTeam.com. Well, today ...

Todd Orston:                   You're excited about the show.

Leh Meriwether:             I am excited about the show.

Todd Orston:                   So am I.

Leh Meriwether:             I know. Last week you were excited because it was Halloween, but this week I'm very excited because we have two special guests to come on the show. We have got Tammy Daughtry. Am I saying your last name right? Daughtry?

Tammy Daughtry:           Daughtry.

Leh Meriwether:             Daughtry. You knew I was going to mess up last names. I'm terrible at that. So I've got-

Todd Orston:                   Well, it wouldn't have made sense to actually figure that out before the show started.

Leh Meriwether:             It just wouldn't have been as funny. All right. So Tammy and Jay. They are a husband and wife team of therapists, and their big focus is on co-parenting. Tammy is the founder and CEO of CoParenting International, launched in January of 2004 as a resource to address the critical impact of co-parenting on children of divorce.

                                         She's also the author of Co-Parenting Works! Working Together to Help Your Children Thrive. Tammy has been on over 50 radio programs nationwide and has authored articles for Family Therapy Magazine, ParentLife Magazine, HomeLife Magazine, just to name a few.

                                         She's also a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the Tennessee Council for Children and Youth. Tammy has a master's in marriage and family therapy. And in 2014, Tammy co-founded the Center for Modern Family Dynamics with her husband Jay as a way to work with children and families in the middle Tennessee area.

                                         Now, Jay also has a master's in marriage and family therapy. He's a native of Rockford, Illinois. Jay has a pastoral background of over 20 years and has had a personal encounter with a life altering grief. He's lost his wife in an accident. So he was a widower and a single father for over three years before meeting Tammy. And now they raise a blended family of four children, three dogs, and they're proud grandparents.

                                         Jay has also written for the Nashville Family Magazine and Focus on the Family, as well as being a part of various national radio interviews, including Family Life Radio. He is certified to administer the PREPARE/ENRICH assessment, a valuable tool for dating, pre-marital and marital work. And he's a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

                                         In 2014 ... I said that earlier. He co-founded the Center for Modern Family Dynamics. And they also co-produce a national curriculum of One Heart, Two Homes: Co-parenting Kids of Divorce to a Positive Future.

                                         Whoo, that was a lot.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, we're done with the show. We're out of time.

Leh Meriwether:             Well, Jay and Tammy, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Tammy Daughtry:           Oh, we're excited to be here. Thank you.

Jay Daughtry:                  Absolutely, yes.

Leh Meriwether:             And, by the way, if you want to learn more about them, you can go to CoParentingInternational.com. Did I get that right?

Tammy Daughtry:           Yes, that is correct.

Leh Meriwether:             Awesome. Well, let me just give a little background ... a little more background about Tammy and Jay. I've already given a lot of background. But I went to an event recently in August that we actually promoted on this show. It was called Co-Parent Unscripted and Jay and Tammy presented at this event.

                                         Now, I was sort of in charge of a table of about ... It was between eight and ten parents that were there to learn how to co-parent better. And Tammy and Jay, part of their presentation was this videos of the top ten things your kids wish they could tell you and why. So my back was to the parents, and they played these videos. And I turn around and, man, the looks on their faces. Some of them were tearing up. Some of them were like, "I hadn't thought of it that way."

                                         It was so impactful that after the presentation, I ran up to them and like, "You've got to come on the radio show."

Todd Orston:                   After days and weeks of harassing and stalking and other illegal behavior, here you are.

Tammy Daughtry:           Oh, wow.

Jay Daughtry:                  Well, the restraining order [inaudible 00:04:48] away with that. But it's okay now.

Todd Orston:                   I'm 500 yards from you, so it's ...

Tammy Daughtry:           That's right. Let's keep it that way.

Jay Daughtry:                  Definitely. So we're good.

Leh Meriwether:             Hey, can you take a moment to explain how and why you put this together? Now, we can't play the videos, but we have the audio clips from what these kids have said.

Tammy Daughtry:           Sure.

Leh Meriwether:             Can you take a moment and explain where this came about?

Jay Daughtry:                  Yes. Well, very briefly, Tammy, the first half of her life was as an event producer here in Nashville. Worked with all the major labels and publishers and stuff. And so she knew how to do events. And so [inaudible 00:05:23] was moving her towards speaking into this co-parenting issue.

                                         It was real for her. She grew up in divorce and kind of got put in the middle. Mom and Dad put her in the middle of their war. And as she became a single parent, she decided, "Hey, we got to do this differently."

                                         As she started to speak about that and reach out to people, she did what she knew and that was to put together events. Well, part of what she did in those events was that she would have young adults and teens come up and do a live panel at these events. And have those teens answer questions about what their experience has been like, both good and bad, in the post-divorce world that they were living in with their parents.

                                         And so out of that came all this very rich content that came straight from the mouths of young people who were experiencing this. Over the years, as we got together and started developing that curriculum, the One Heart, Two Homes curriculum, we brought some teens and young adults into the studio with us and had them say the things that those kids have been saying over the years so that we could put that out there for parents to hear. Hey, here's what your children are experiencing when they're in this place. So they have an understanding of what their heart is going through.

Tammy Daughtry:           I was going to say I've also done some guest lectures at a variety of universities. And I'm always interested in anonymous feedback. There's also been a lot of college students who have answered surveys and given us their feedback. And these are the, like Jay said, kind of the common themes that came back.

Leh Meriwether:             I think one of the things that's important here, as I understand, a lot of the times these kids, they don't want to tell their parents that. The things that we're going to go into, the top ten things. A lot of times, they don't want to confront their parents about it.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yes.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah.

Tammy Daughtry:           And that's actually why we called it "The Top Ten Things Kids Wish They Could Tell Their Divorced Parents." Just to try to help bring a voice to the conversation and really intentionally try to help moms and dads maybe think about what their kids are navigating.

                                         There's not a one size fits all answer and there's not a one size fits all problem. But these kids really bring to light a lot of common denominators that families face. And I'm thankful to hear what you said about the response that the audience gave you because we have found this is one of the most powerful pieces of the information we share around the country.

Leh Meriwether:             In your book, Co-Parenting Works!, you have this great ... You have this story sort of at the end. And the book's great. We'll talk about, towards the end of the show, some of the good chapters in here. But I wanted you to share the story of Dr. John Trent that you have in there and the power that a parent can have for the future of their child when they speak positively about the other parent.

Tammy Daughtry:           Sure. Well, Dr. John Trent may or may not be a name everybody knows. Both of us know him. He is an incredible national author, speaker. When Promise Keepers was a big thing, he had spoken, I think, to six, seven million men about marriage and family. He's probably written a dozen amazing books by now. He's just a very smart, well-sought after speaker around the country and his topic is marriage and family.

                                         Well, the interesting thing about John is he comes from a broken home. His dad left when he and his brothers were all under the age of ten. And he really didn't know his dad. He was around two or three, I believe, when Dad walked out. And so, when he tells this story, and he's given us permission to tell it on his behalf. His story, because to me I'm thinking, "Wow. He's a national advocate and expert on marriage and family, but he's from a broken home?"

                                         That's a good news story to me. Something great has happened with his life. And he says it's two things. His mom never spoke ill of his dad, even though she had a lot of reasons she could have. She chose the good stuff. She chose the positive characteristics and aspects of her former husband and spoke of that to John on a regular basis.

                                         She also talked to John about her hope for him and God's plan for a lifelong marriage. Even though she couldn't be the example, she couldn't walk it out and show him that experience in their family, she held that up to him as his game plan.

                                         And so this little guy grew up in a divided home. Didn't even know his dad. Met him later in life. But he became an amazing advocate for the very thing we're all thinking and concerned about, children and family. He says, yeah, it's those two things that kept him not only from repeating the cycle and becoming a father who later in life would get divorced himself, but it really made him really passionate about marriage and family.

                                         So the good news for parents listening, maybe you are divorced. Maybe you were never married. You're raising kids in two homes. They do not have to have a broken life. They can come from a broken home, but they don't have to have a broken life. How one parent chooses to speak and act consistently over the whole span of a child's life, that can launch them into amazing, well-adjusted kids that go on to have life-long marriages of their own.

Leh Meriwether:             Well, that's just amazing. My understanding, too, is that when he finally did meet his dad, he was not that much of a ... He was a drinker and a smoker and definitely not a positive role model. But the model that his mom presented, that he didn't even know was not correct, but, was that he was a good guy.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             And how amazing that is that it's shaped his life in such a positive way. And up next, we're going to get into those top ten things your kids wish they could tell you if you are going through a divorce.

                                         Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on The New Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always read about us online at AtlantaDivorceTeam.com.

                                         Well, I don't want to talk too much about us because we've got two amazing guests. We've got Tammy and Jay on the line. And they are a husband-wife co-parenting team. They go around the country giving presentations. They've authored a book. And we're learning about the top ten things that children wish they could tell their divorcing parents.

                                         Look, Tammy and Jay, thanks for coming back. You didn't disappear on us.

Jay Daughtry:                  No, we're still here.

Tammy Daughtry:           We're excited. We're ready on go.

Jay Daughtry:                  [crosstalk 00:12:09], yes.

Leh Meriwether:             All right. I'm going to go ahead and just start playing the clips and we're going to play the clip and then we're going to talk about it afterwards. So here we go. This is number ten.

Audio:                              Don't forget that I have a divided heart now. I live between two different houses and the rules, traditions, and attitudes are different. Be patient with me when I forget things or need some time to adjust from house to house. Please buy me enough stuff so that I don't have to live out of my suitcase half my life. I want to feel at home in both places.

Leh Meriwether:             So that's number ten.

                                         You want to hear something funny? There was a comment made at the table before you played this where one of them says, "Well, one of the biggest troubles I have is when the kids come back to my house. They're just a little rowdy for a day or two after being at Dad's house, and we don't know what's going on over there."

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah. Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             And then she sees this clip and she said, "Oh. Oh. I didn't think just about that."

                                         It really hit this particular mom hard. In a good way.

Tammy Daughtry:           Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sure.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yes.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yeah. Kids do. They need a little time to adjust as they either leave one place or relocate into the other. Depending on their stage and age of life. Two-year-olds are different than twelve-year-olds, right? So parents need to really be intentional to think about giving kids kind of that transition time and have appropriate expectations for that.

                                         In the audio, she referenced the sense of having a divided heart in two different places. One of the analogies we say to parents is that kids, they kind of live in two countries, right? You may speak the same language and you may have some similarities but you have a lot of differences.

                                         Bedtime might be different. How you eat. What you eat. Do you have screen time or not? Do you play outside or do you play inside? Do you have family time at the table or do you watch TV and eat dinner? All of those things can be very different and sometimes parents get stuck on trying to make everything the same. And some things are important to try to work together. But in general we want to highlight that parents just being aware and compassionate for what is the same and what is different and helping kids to adjust as they come and go is really important.

Leh Meriwether:             And I think you make a really powerful point when you say, "The two households are different."

                                         Not that one's better than another. They're just different.

Tammy Daughtry:           Right.

Leh Meriwether:             Some people struggle with that. I do know that from all the cases we've had. We hear the clients, what they say. So this information is really helpful. I'm already thinking about some people that need to listen to it. Although I think I'd get in trouble if I reach out to the opposing side.

Todd Orston:                   Well, and it's also not just the perspective. We're talking about it from the perspective of adults.

Leh Meriwether:             Right.

Todd Orston:                   You could have two homes where there are more similarities than differences. But in the mind and the eyes of a child, it's very different. And so, a child going from one house to ... From Mom's house to Dad's house, it's two totally different environments. And they may be looking at it like, "Wow."

                                         Just very different from one to the other.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, good point.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yeah. And she highlighted at the end there a little phrase on wanting to feel at home in both places. One of the most important things that a parent can give is a gift to the child they love, is to give them their emotional permission and affirmation to go to the other home and enjoy their time there. As they hand them off, do transitions, to really affirm to them that.

                                         For moms to say, "I know you're going to have a great time with Dad. You're going to have a wonderful time," doing whatever it is that they specifically do. And in reverse. Dads really affirming to the children that, "Man, your mom's awesome and she loves you and I'm so glad you're going to be with her," for whatever that amount of time is.

                                         Because as kids come and go they really need permission to feel like they're at home in those places. And sometimes conflicted co-parents lose sight of the importance of children feeling at ease and feeling like they belong.

                                         I always tell the parents, especially the one that's really, really angry, the same way we would cheer for our child to go into kindergarten, to start school, to go into an environment where they're not very sure. Maybe they have some anxiety about the transition. But in those settings, we cheer for them, right? We try to help them be brave. We help them take steps to go and meet the teacher and to try new things.

                                         We want to have that same perspective when they're coming and going between homes. It's not about, "Oh, I'm going to miss you so much, Johnny."

                                         And Mom's falling apart, crying. Or Dad's getting emotional. But we're really trying to send them off with our emotional affirmation to go and enjoy and I'll be right here when you come back. With no emotional hook.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. And very quickly, one thing that I have also found or seen is that the parents who can actually rise to that level have ... And, again, I'm not saying this from a position of a therapist. I'm not a therapist. But they seem to have better relationships with their children than the parents who are constantly pushing children away from the other parent. Allowing them to build a relationship with the other parent seems to strengthen their relationships with them as well.

Leh Meriwether:             Yup. Let's hit number nine. You ready?

Audio:                              Don't try to use money to win my love. Just be there for me and I'll love you, no matter who has the most money.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah. Yeah. Really important message there, because sometimes ... And this is driven a couple of different ways. On the one hand, all of us are aware that sometimes there's the Disneyland parent. Whether it's Mom or Dad on either side of the equation, who decides that, "Okay. When the kids come over, I'm going to make it super fun and I'm going to spend all kinds of money on them. And we're going to go do amazing things all the time. And there's not going to be any rules because I'm the fun dad," or, "I'm the fun mom."

                                         That is kind of an insidious way of losing track of their ability to be a parent. Kids aren't going to tell you, "No, don't do that."

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Jay Daughtry:                  "Don't give me all that food. No, don't let me stay up and watch whatever I want to. No, don't take me to the amusement park again," because kids are kids. We're the parents. And so, as a parent, you have to maintain that parental posture in the midst of this very difficult time.

                                         And some of that motivation comes from a real place of guilt and shame. I mean, if things didn't go well for whatever reason, that mom or that dad is feeling guilt because they know that things are harder on their kids now than they would've been. Maybe they start to function from a place of guilt.

                                         What I think kids are trying to say is, "Hey, I just still need you to be my parent. I don't care if you're taking me to Six Flags or if you're just taking me to the park down the street. I just want you to be present with me. And I don't need a present. I need you to be present."

Leh Meriwether:             Ooh, that's good.

Jay Daughtry:                  That's really the message that kids are having.

Leh Meriwether:             All right, ready for number eight? Here we go.

Tammy Daughtry:           I'm ready.

Jay Daughtry:                  Let's go.

Audio:                              Don't make me pick who I want to spend time with. It's not fair and it hurts me when you do that. And don't keep track of my time like I'm on the clock. It doesn't always have to be even. Just love me when we're together and don't make me feel bad about not spending the same amount of time with each of you.

Jay Daughtry:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leh Meriwether:             We see that a lot.

Todd Orston:                   Too much. It becomes a competition, a tug of war between the parents.

Jay Daughtry:                  Right. Right. And that is probably one of the most devastating emotional things for children. Part of the underlying issue there, and this is a thread that goes through all ten of these things, is parents have to figure out how to foster a sense of belonging for their kids. Just as Tammy mentioned earlier, giving them the gift of offering them the freedom and permission to love both parents and enjoy being with both parents. And if you don't, what you end up doing is putting them in a place of challenging their loyalties.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yes.

Jay Daughtry:                  See, because when you start giving them pushback on what they do with the other parent, or the time they spend with the other parent, they can't help but feel guilty. Feel like, "Oh, goodness. Well, then, if I enjoy my time with Dad, then Mom feels bad about it. She's sad because I do. Or if I go and have a good time with Mom, Dad gets angry because she left us."

                                         Whatever the case may be. And so they take those messages and they're holding on to them. And what they're doing is they're carrying adult things, adult emotion that they're not meant to process. That is a real key factor. Getting that stuff, keeping it off of them. Carrying the things that we're supposed to carry as adults and making sure that we're not challenging their loyalties. And that we're letting them feel at ease in every situation.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, and what parents need to remember as they're listening to these, because we're going to continue to go through the top ten things kids could wish they could tell their divorced parents, is that these are the things that they just won't tell their parents. They'll say, "Oh, yeah, I'm fine."

                                         But they really aren't. Whether it's they don't want to hurt their feelings or they're going to get backlash. When you listen to this, up next, we're going to continue to go through these top ten things and just listen carefully.

                                         Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on The New Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always check us out online at AtlantaDivorceTeam.com.

                                         But today's not about us. Today is about Jay and Tammy. They are a husband and wife dynamic duo, co-parenting coordinators, co-parenting counselors. And they have put together some amazing material to help parents learn how to be better co-parents.

                                         We've been actually going through the top ten things that kids or children wish they could tell their parents that are going through a divorce or have been divorced. Just great information. We still have how many more clips? Seven more. All right. Let's get to number seven. You all ready?

Jay Daughtry:                  [crosstalk 00:23:09].

Tammy Daughtry:           All right, let's go.

Leh Meriwether:             Here we go.

Audio:                              When you criticize my other parent, it makes me angry at you.

Tammy Daughtry:           Well, drop the mic right there.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah.

Tammy Daughtry:           [crosstalk 00:23:19]. He's a young man that worked on this project with us who is in a divided household. Yeah. No children like to hear negative words about the other parent. And it internally creates this thing that ... They have a divided heart, a divided self. And when they hear negative news about one parent they may internalize it as if it's connected to them because they know they're from both.

                                         The flip side of that is we challenge parents, if you want to be a great co-parent, pick three awesome things that you can say to your children that are positive and good about their other parent and work those into your language on a regular basis. It helps build their self-esteem and their security between two places. It's kind of a radical idea and some of your listeners might not like that idea, but hey. If you love your kid, pick three great things to say about your ex and say it to your kids all the time.

Leh Meriwether:             That's really good advice. I had a case long ago where the husband had cheated on the wife and the wife was so angry about it that she just couldn't stop talking badly about him.

                                         At first his daughter was angry at him, too, and didn't want to talk to him. But we actually came up with a plan where he was just going to continue to be nice. He was going to continue to show up to all her events. He was never going to talk ill of his daughter's mom.

Tammy Daughtry:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leh Meriwether:             And a year and a half later. See, in Georgia, you can actually ... A 14 year old child can elect which parent they want to live with.

Tammy Daughtry:           Wow.

Leh Meriwether:             It's one of the few states that allows that. But a couple years later, she said, "Mom, I'm tired of you talking bad about my dad. I'm going to move in with him."

                                         And, boy, was that a shock for her. I mean, it's a really good point there.

                                         All right, we ready for clip number 6?

Jay Daughtry:                  Let's go.

Audio:                              Get a counselor to help you with your problems. I need you to be strong and stable. That's what matters to me. I don't want to hear about your dating or your disappointments. I don't want to hear about your problems at work or how our family is struggling. Please talk to someone else about those things. I need you to be my parent. Don't make me yours.

Leh Meriwether:             That last part is really-

Todd Orston:                   Oh, yeah. We see that a lot.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah, it's pretty poignant.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah. That I think is one of those things that we tell parents right out of the box. One of the very first things they've got to do is they've got to become stable. I mean, they've had a trauma. An interpersonal trauma themselves and they have to figure out how to make themselves a stable person so that they can be a stable parent. Because if they're not stable and if they can't help themselves, how are they going to help their children process all that's been going on?

                                         Finding ways to do that, whether it's connecting with trusted friends or individuals; a church, if you're a person of faith, that has a group that you can go to; a counselor, sitting down with them and just sharing, "Hey, this is what I'm experiencing. I've got to figure out how to do this well."

                                         Because if you don't then that emotional bucket's going to be full all the time. And every time you "bump into something," quote, unquote, around the house or around life, it's going to spill out. And it's going to spill out on you. It's going to spill out on your kids. You're constantly going to be trying to clean up that mess because you haven't found a way to take care for yourself and so now your kids are feeling the impact of that. And they need you to be strong. You've got to get stable so that they have a stable parent that they can lean on because they're hurting, too.

Leh Meriwether:             That's really powerful. All right, so are we ready for number five?

Tammy Daughtry:           Number five.

Audio:                              Please don't keep me from seeing the other parent. That will only make me resent you later.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, we run into this ... I'm sure you do, too ... all the time. And sometimes it doesn't matter how many times we advise our clients not to do it. Or we try to discuss with opposing counsel and the opposing counsel tries to talk to their client. Sometimes the emotions just take hold.

Leh Meriwether:             Unfortunately, take over. Yeah.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah. Well, and there's very clear research right now that they've done a number of years pulling together that says very, very clearly that the very best thing you can do for kids in a post-divorce situation is to make sure that they have equal access to both parents as much as it is within your power to do so. And I think sometimes, because of the hurt, of course, all the personal stuff gets in the way.

                                         So Mom and Dad are pushing off away from each other, but they're losing track of the fact that their child still needs both of them. They need you to be present in their life. They need to have access to you. They don't need their loyalties challenged. They've got to know it's okay to love you both.

                                         That research is really important because sometimes people get into a vindictive mindset and they start thinking, "Okay. I'm going to punish you by taking your child away from you."

                                         But what you're doing actually is you're punishing your child.

Leh Meriwether:             Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I'll add this, too. We've seen this before where one parent's not receiving child support. There's a good reason to be upset with that, if the other parent's not paying support and they have the capability of.

                                         But unfortunately that parent that's not receiving child support says, "Well, I'm not going to turn over," and, again, we've heard that term. It's the wrong term. "I'm not turning over the kids until you pay child support."

                                         Thinking that, "Wow, this is going to show him."

                                         But they're harming the children.

Todd Orston:                   And harming their relationship with the children.

Leh Meriwether:             Right. That's what this clip was saying.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah, they are.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. That's the thing that if I could say what I'm taking from this, and I'm taking a lot from it, the biggest takeaway for me is something that I've also seen where I watch people, whether it's our client or more often the other party, and the things that they're doing that they think they're doing out of some emotional response to hurt the other party, it's actually damaging and sometimes destroying the relationship they have with the child.

Leh Meriwether:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jay Daughtry:                  Oh, yeah.

Todd Orston:                   More people just need to realize that and hopefully less kids will get hurt in the mix.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Tammy Daughtry:           There's a saying that our friend, Ron Deal, says. And I don't know where he got it, but he says, "When two elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers."

                                         And when parents fight and they argue, it is the children. The children that get lost in the mix of that anger. They get pushed or pulled from a parent they love deeply. And, yes, finances are important and things need to be fair and they need to be appropriate. They need to be respectful to one another. But children are not a pawn. They're not an item to own and manipulate. They're children and they need to have meaningful relationships with both parents, no matter how difficult it is between mom and dad.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. All right, ready for number four?

Tammy Daughtry:           Ready, go.

Audio:                              Handle your financial conversations in private. I don't want to hear about that and I don't want to be your messenger.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yes. Yes, there is our friend. We'll call him Bob. Young Bob. He, honestly, has been stuck most of his life being the go-between between parents. "How do I pay for pictures in school? How do I do sports? How do I get to church? How do I go [inaudible 00:31:12] camp?"

                                         He's always been the one caught in the middle. And many, many kids get stuck there, especially junior high, high school. As they're getting older, parents will lean in and let them be the messenger. And that's never their job. It's always the job of parents to keep communicating and working together as a parental team.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. Man, that's something that judges harp on all the time. They get really upset with that. Somebody may think it's as simple as, "Well, can you give your mom this envelope?"

                                         And they think because they put it in a envelope, it's okay. "Just give your mom this envelope. Well, I've sealed the," let's say child support check in the envelope. But then mom opens it up and then mom gets upset.

                                         "I can't believe he did this."

                                         And now all of a sudden the child sees mom's reaction. "You just made me make mom upset."

Tammy Daughtry:           Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             Going back to what you and Todd said. You're just hurting your relationship with your child. I mean, not only just hurting them but hurting your relationship with them.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yes. Absolutely.

Jay Daughtry:                  Well, and understanding, too, that parents who are doing those sorts of things are really hurting themselves.

Leh Meriwether:             Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Jay Daughtry:                  They are in a lot of pain and they're struggling to do the right thing. And in the middle of what is difficult personal pain and turmoil, they lose track of being the parent they need to be. They lose track of a parental [inaudible 00:32:46]. And it is. It's harming the child. It's putting them in a place where they're carrying adult stuff that they're not equipped to carry.

Leh Meriwether:             That's an excellent-

Jay Daughtry:                  We have to be the parent.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, that's an excellent point. I'm glad you added that.

                                         Hey, up next, we're going to get to the last three things that kids wish they could tell their parents.

                                         Todd, while we're on a break, let's take a moment to speak just with our podcast listeners.

Todd Orston:                   Great idea, Leh. First, thank you for listening. If you're a client of ours, thank you for taking the time to educate yourself. It really helps us help you.

Leh Meriwether:             And I wanted to thank those that recently took a moment to review our podcast. We really appreciate it. If you feel like you're gaining a value from the show, please take a moment to post a review. The reviews help others find the show, which allows us to help even more people.

Todd Orston:                   And if you're not sure how to post a review, our webmasters put together a simple explanation on our webpage. You can find it at mtlawoffice.com/review. That's M as in Mary, T as in Tom, law office dot com, slash, review.

Leh Meriwether:             Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on The New Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always check us out online at AtlantaDivorceTeam.com.

                                         Well, this show's not about us. We're barely actually talking on this show. That's unusual. No, but there's good reason for that because we have Jay and Tammy with us. They are amazing and dynamic duo. Husband and wife, co-parenting counselors. They've authored a book. They have materials online. A national curriculum called One Heart, Two Homes: Co-parenting Kids of Divorce to a Positive Future.

                                         And we've been breaking down the top ten things that children wish they could tell their divorcing parents. What's really amazing about this is it's coming from the children. And a lot of times we hear ... And I wanted to, before we play the next three, I just wanted to follow up on what you said earlier, Jay, because I think it's important to emphasize that point. Moms and dads are hurting. And I don't want it to sound like ... Because it could've easily have sounded like we're beating up on them, going, "Gosh, shame on you."

                                         It's hard.

Jay Daughtry:                  Right.

Leh Meriwether:             So I want to make sure I'm clear on that. That I'm not saying, "Oh, you're just being foolish."

                                         No, no, no. We recognize the high emotions can quickly take over but what's important is to be self-aware. And you're going to make mistakes. And so when you do make one of these mistakes, pause and apologize. Maybe apologize to your child or children or the other parent. Just be aware of this. We're all going to make mistakes.

                                         I mean, we're emotional beings. Emotion will take over at some point. So it's really important to just be aware. Listen to these things that the kids wish they could tell you and keep them in the back of your mind. So before you lose your temper, before you lose control, you take a step back and just think about the impact it may have on the kids.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yeah.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             All right, so I just wanted to hit that because it could've sounded earlier like I was really trying to beat up on parents and now I want to make sure I'm not doing that.

Todd Orston:                   No, you know what? It's fair that you're saying that. But then again the whole point of this show ... We've done other shows about ... Or, in other shows, we've talked about people going and getting help themselves.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   And the focus of this show is on the children.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   It's on the impact that ones behavior can have on children.

Jay Daughtry:                  Sure.

Todd Orston:                   And it's not intended. We're not saying they are intentionally trying to hurt the children. We're saying because of your emotional reaction sometimes, or whatever reaction, what's driving your reaction, it's impacting children. It's having actual impacts. And children are smarter than we think. They're not as smart as they think.

Jay Daughtry:                  True. True.

Todd Orston:                   But they're-

Tammy Daughtry:           Right. Ask any 13 year old.

Todd Orston:                   [crosstalk 00:36:59] That's right. I've got one. I've got two of those, really.

                                         But the impact is real and the impact is significant. I've seen that impact poison a relationship, and I'm not talking about just against the other one that ... I'm talking about the one who's actually engaging that emotional behavior.

Leh Meriwether:             All right, let's hit number three.

Todd Orston:                   All right.

Leh Meriwether:             Here we go.

Tammy Daughtry:           All right.

Audio:                              ... to enjoy my life and your mood impacts my-

Leh Meriwether:             Hold on, let me replay that. That didn't start off right. Here we go.

Audio:                              Laugh and smile. I want to enjoy my life. And your mood impacts my mood. Find a way to be happy so that we can have fun and make good memories together.

Leh Meriwether:             Well, that plays in just what you were saying, Todd.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yup.

Leh Meriwether:             And what you were saying, Jay. Get help. I mean, if you're struggling through this, don't ...

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. Children are sponges. They're going to pick up on the negative energy. Anyway.

Tammy Daughtry:           [inaudible 00:38:00].

Todd Orston:                   You guys can obviously comment on that better than I can.

Tammy Daughtry:           Well, and it's important. I remember being ... To begin being a single mom and feeling overwhelmed with emotion and transition and finances and all the things that we're trying to piece together and figure out, "Okay, how is this actually going to work?"

                                         And somebody gave me some great advice. They said, "Tammy, take your daughter for a walk in the park. Get outside. Do things with her that are free and fun that have you intentionally engaging and laughing."

                                         She was little. She was three, four years old in some of that time. And every parent's going to be different in what makes us laugh and brings us to life. But intentionally creating some time and space every time they are with us, whether it's over a weekend or a week or whatever it is. Just finding some time and space to laugh and giggle and let yourself kind of be free so that they ... Even if the transition is hard, they get to see mom or dad, that they're okay.

                                         Because one of the things kids have always said, and it's reflected some here today, looking back that they ... During this hard time, during the initial transition, especially, they just need parents to be the strong one. They need them to be stronger and well-grounded.

                                         And sometimes you're faking it. You're faking it till you make it, because you're really going 39 different directions internally. But when you have your children, create some time and space that you can let yourself laugh again. That you can enjoy just being their parent, being present with them. And doing silly things that are going to make great memories five years from now.

                                         Life is short. And they grow up so fast. We blink and they're gone to college. So enjoy and really create some of those precious, precious memories together.

Jay Daughtry:                  And a simple analogy is as parents, we're thermostats.

Leh Meriwether:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jay Daughtry:                  Our children are the thermometers.

Leh Meriwether:             Mmm.

Jay Daughtry:                  They just read what's in the room.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Jay Daughtry:                  Right? We're the ones who set that atmosphere.

Todd Orston:                   That's great.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. I like that.

Jay Daughtry:                  We're the ones who create that atmosphere.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   Yup.

Leh Meriwether:             I'm totally borrowing that.

Jay Daughtry:                  You can just go for it.

Leh Meriwether:             All right. Let's hit number two. We only have just under five minutes. Let's hit number two.

Jay Daughtry:                  All right.

Tammy Daughtry:           All right.

Audio:                              The harder you make it on my other parent, the harder you are making it on me.

Leh Meriwether:             Ooh, that is so true. And a lot of the times you don't-

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah, and ...

Leh Meriwether:             Go ahead.

Jay Daughtry:                  Well, I was just going to say, in so many ways. I mean, there are so many ways that when we're hurting we lash out. The all-American divorce has a tendency take place in a court room and with lawyers, which are trained to be advocates. And so it becomes an adversarial process. And in that adversarial process, we can sometimes really get vindictive. Can go after folks, not realizing that the pressure we put on that parent is also bringing indirect pressure on the child.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. Because that impacts their parenting time, the other person's parenting time. You make it difficult.

Jay Daughtry:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leh Meriwether:             All right, last one.

Audio:                              Don't say mean things about the other parent. I want and need to love you both.

Leh Meriwether:             Mmm.

Tammy Daughtry:           Hmm.

Leh Meriwether:             That's a ...

Tammy Daughtry:           That's true. Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   One of the hardest things that I see clients and other parties, one of the hardest things to do is just to stop. I mean, it doesn't change how you think but it's the saying things that ... Even if it's not just overtly horrible. "Your father is this. Your mother is that."

                                         It's the little, little jabs that maybe you don't even think the kids are picking up on but they're negative that wear the kids down.

Leh Meriwether:             "If just your father could pay child support on time."

Todd Orston:                   Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             Those little things.

Jay Daughtry:                  Yeah.

Tammy Daughtry:           Right. Right. And we say sometimes it's not always what we say, it's what we leave unsaid that helps our children. Right? Some of those hard things are true. And, unfortunately, they create ripple effect problems.

                                         If somebody's not paying child support or showing up on time or being a consistent parent, those are hard things, right? But to continue to rant about them, to bring them up constantly. Ultimately, it just hurts the children. They don't need to carry that extra pain.

                                         They need to know the best and believe the best about both parents. It's a gift you're giving your child because you love your child. Not because you like the co-parent. Not because you've forgiven them. Not because they've ever said they're sorry. But you do that because you love your children and you want to pour into them the most healthy, well-adjusted childhood possible.

                                         So you choose good words to say to them and you leave unsaid the other things that over time will play out and kids will figure out on their own. They don't need us championing the negativity.

Leh Meriwether:             Good point.

Jay Daughtry:                  And there are-

Leh Meriwether:             Hey, we only have a couple minutes left. I'm sorry to cut you off, Jay-

Jay Daughtry:                  Oh, no problem. No problem.

Leh Meriwether:             ... but I don't want to end the show without the two of you talking about where can people find you online.

Tammy Daughtry:           Sure. Our website is CoParentingInternational.com. C-O parenting international dot com. There's some free downloads on there. Some free videos. And we're actually about to launch our ... I mean, One Heart, Two Homes went out four years ago, and we've got some really cool things happening online digitally that will go live in December.

                                         If they want to be part of that, they want to hear about the One Heart, Two Homes digital resources, they can log on there and sign up to hear about it. We'll be sending that information out very soon.

                                         But that's the best place to connect with us. And we do speak around the country. We're happy to come and do events, workshops, trainings anywhere and everywhere. We're all in, forever. That's our website and we'd love to hear from parents that are listening.

Leh Meriwether:             Awesome. Hey, before you go, first off thanks so much for coming on. We really appreciate it. This has been a great show. I'm assuming you can ... Most of the people can find your book on Amazon or in most bookstores?

Tammy Daughtry:           Sure.

Jay Daughtry:                  On our website.

Tammy Daughtry:           Yeah. Our website we sell it.

Leh Meriwether:             Oh, your website?

Tammy Daughtry:           Yeah. We sell that there. But Amazon is a great resource, too. And they can ship it to you that day.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Tammy Daughtry:           We don't quite have that kind of ability.

Leh Meriwether:             Well, and your book's great. I mean, it's more than just all the positive stuff. But it also talks about like when your co-parent won't cooperate. So there's some really good stuff in there. Hey, everyone.

Tammy Daughtry:           [crosstalk 00:44:30].

Leh Meriwether:             Thanks so much for listening to the show. If you want to read more about us, you can always find, read about us online at AtlantaDivorceTeam.com.

Speaker 6:                        This audio program does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Meriwether & Tharp.