In this episode, Carrie sits down with Tammy Daughtry, author of “Co-Parenting Works: Helping Your Children Thrive After Divorce,” to discuss the challenging topic of co-parenting and its impact on anxiety. Tammy shares her personal journey as an adult child of divorce and her mission to provide hope-filled resources for co-parents through Co-Parenting International. 

  • The impact of managing emotions on co-parenting dynamics and children’s well-being.
  • Techniques for seamless transitions during handoffs using body language and tone.—The importance of prioritizing child safety and well-being over personal disagreements.
  • Creating secure spaces for kids by acknowledging parenting style differences and encouraging open communication.
  • The significance of self-care for parents during alone time, promoting personal well-being and smoother transitions upon children’s return.

Related links and Resources:

www.coparentinginternational.com

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Transcript

Carrie: Welcome to Hopefor Anxiety and OCD episode 102. On our show, as most of you know, we talk about a variety of different topics related to anxiety and OCD, but we also talk about healthy relationships as we are striving to have healthier relationships with God and others.

Today on the show, I have Tammy Daughtry, who is the author of Co-Parenting Works, Helping Your Children Thrive After Divorce.

I know that this is something that I don’t have experience with, even though I went through a divorce several years ago. We did not share any children together. I thought it would be great, since this is a topic that a lot of our listeners probably are dealing with, co-parenting, and it can create a lot of distress and anxiety.

Thank you. I thought it would be good to do a show on this. Tammy, welcome to our conversation today.

Tammy: Thank you so much, Carrie. It’s a joy to be with you.

Carrie: Now, how did you get into divorce and co-parenting work?

Tammy: Well, this is a short show, so I’ll give you a summary. I am an adult child of divorce and my parents have been divided since I was age one and they’re both still alive, which is a beautiful thing. So I have lived decades in that space. And when I got married, my hope and dream was that I would get married once and forever. I would never be divorced. There was a lot of things, blessings and challenges from my childhood, but my goal was really to make it work forever.

I was in an almost eight-year marriage and found myself at a fork in the road. We had done four years of therapy with a marriage and family therapist, and yet we were still becoming co parents. And so we shared a daughter that was one at the time. And our divorce was final when she was two, and this was literally 22 years ago.

I was looking for hope-filled resources on co-parenting on single parenting on life after divorce. I couldn’t find anything honestly about co parenting that had a hope-filled lens. There were some books out on co parenting with a jerk or co parenting with a narcissist. And I didn’t want to pick those up because they just sounded angry.

I knew I’d learned a lot from being a kid in a divided family, honestly. And I knew what anger and toxic anger looked like. I was trying to find another path over time. I had been an event producer in that season of my life and I started producing events for divorced parents. I thought we need a place to come and gather and be able to have people address tough topics, but with strategies of hope and solution.

20 years ago this year, back in 03, I started Co-Parenting International with the goal of being a voice for children and helping co-parents have a roadmap. Eventually went off to grad school in a seven became a master’s in marriage and family to really study and understand deeper. How to help people in high conflict, learn to communicate.

We’ve been at this work a long time and it’s been a great delight. And I’ll say in my own personal journey, we launched a daughter who is now 23. She’s thriving. She’s actually got married. I wanted her always to believe that marriage mattered and that God’s plan for marriage was forever. I’m excited to say that precious girl who was the catalyst of all things co-parenting in my own life is now an adult and doing really well.

I did read Mary when she was nine. So now we’re in a blended family, which is a whole nother topic. We could tackle it another time, but I just walked into it and my own personal life and did not find any Christian faith-based resources back in the year of 2000. So decided to create some incredible, it’s been a great joy to walk with people.

Carrie: Yes. What are some of the challenges that parents who are co parenting most commonly deal with that you see?

Tammy: There are a lot. So many, but the one thing that I often, or always, try to help moms and dads with is what we call the handoff. How you handle a handoff. I really believe has a huge root in what a child experiences, whether they’ve got a broken home, or they have 2 parents in 2 houses that both love them that let them come and go freely.

I spend a lot of time with my clients on the handoff. And I would say a couple quick tips on that. First and foremost, I asked my clients to look through based on their calendar of transitions to look ahead and estimate how many times are we going to do this? Because what we have found children when there may be 1, 2, and 3.

You’re going to go through almost 500 to 600 handoffs and exchanges. Kids who maybe mom and dad divorced when they’re 12, 13, 14, they’re probably going to experience maybe 100 to 200. When we think about children and any life experience that they have, something that consistent. That shows up so many times is going to have a deep impact on them.

What I try to do when I’m working with two parents who do not like each other, is they’ve got a history of in and out of court, there’s pain points. They’re just struggling to communicate at all. I try to help shift the focus to their love for their child or how much they both deeply care about that little one or three and four kiddos, depending on their family structure and start to explain.

The emotional impact of that exchange and how they can each change that so that their child can have an emotional freedom going between them. And it takes a lot of intentionality. Three things I ask them to focus on is their body language, their facial expression. And their tone of voice, because in a 10-second narrative, you could quickly understand as a mom if I’m upset or I’m okay.

A child is always absorbing what the adults around them are doing and they absorb it and they observe it. I often role play with my clients what it sounds like for a mom to be getting a kid ready to go to dad’s house and she’s stressed and she has a lot of anxiety about it and she’s not happy to say goodbye to her child. But when they hear me role play, what it sounds like. Sometimes outside of themselves, it can help them realize, Oh, I probably do sound pretty stressed and angry and fearful or frustrated. Right? And then I role play what it might sound like if they’re watching them off with joy.

I love analogies. I’m a visual learner, and I’m also a storyteller. As you can tell, I will have a lot of words, but I always ask parents, you know, to remember the first day they took their child to kindergarten. For some families I’m working with, they are not there yet, but maybe it was the first day they took them to Sunday school, or they took them to a place where they had to say goodbye for a little while and empower their child to go and do something without them. Parents want their children to succeed at those things. If your child is getting dropped off at Sunday school and they’re clinging to you and they’re like, no, mommy, I don’t want to go or no, daddy, I don’t want to go. Well, the parents try to lovingly empower them.

With your tone of voice, your facial expression, your body language, comfort and help them know, Hey, buddy, you’re going to have so much fun. We talk about where they’re going, we talk about the activities they’re going to do. The people they are going to be with in a different context than a divorce or a divided family when a parent is.

It’s very much trying to be a loving parent. They choose words and phrases and facial expressions to help their child transition away from them. When I’m doing a role play at a seminar or something, I always just say, when you’ve got a little person, right, we bend down, we get down at their eye level. If we’re a young parent and we can get on one knee real quick, we might get on one knee and just look at them and say, hey.

You’re going to have so much fun and you’re going to go, let’s say it’s a camp experience this week. You’re going to get to play in the river and you’re going to fish and you’re going to be on the little boat and I think you’re going to have s’mores. We talk about those things eye to eye with joy and send them off to camp and we want them to know they are going to be okay when they’re away from us.

I try to pull back on that same narrative to parents who are saying goodbye to their kids. Sometimes it’s once a week. It’s sometimes 2 or 3 times a week. And to find a way to stay in that focus of helping their child have a healthy goodbye because if we can help our child have that healthy goodbye with us. And know it’s okay to go and enjoy that other household, then quite honestly, we have just given them 3, 4, 5, 600 gifts of freedom and joy to empower them, to not put an emotional hook in them and to send them off with joy. Now, part of the trick to that, though, Carrie is I also talked to clients about what are you going to do with your alone time?

When you’re a divorced parent, or maybe you’ve never married, right? You’ve got a child or 2. Maybe you live together for a season, that’s a rising tide in our culture. They want to be a family, but for a variety of reasons, they don’t legally get married and yet they divide. However, people find themselves there.

Part of the task of that is a lot of goodbyes and some alone time, especially for the single-parent journey. I try to talk to my clients about making healthy choices with their alone time because quite honestly, that has a big impact on the kind of experience your child has when they come back. I’m a high extrovert, so being left alone for a couple of days, or a couple of weeks in the visitation in the summer, those are tough.

High extroverts don’t like being alone ever. Now, my friends who are high introverts, they might not like saying goodbye to their children, but they have more tools and pure enjoyment in being alone, because that’s how they replenish. Two or three days without their children, Is still difficult for sure, but it might not have the same challenge that an extrovert has in being alone for that amount of time.

I try to tackle those topics of what are the healthy choices you can make while you’re alone schedule, some meaningful experiences, go hang out with a friend, go to a Bible study. There are so many Christmases or long holidays where we rotated those that I went and volunteered at the Nashville Rescue Mission to serve other people and to give my love and support to others.

I love old people. I went many times, especially pre-COVID to visit people at a nursing home, and take a couple dozen cookies. I don’t cook, Carrie, so unfortunately, I’m not that wonderful person in the kitchen who can just whip up this beautiful, joyous, five dozen beautiful cookies. I stopped by the grocery store, but still, the thought and the love is there to take cookies or something and go spend time with other people. That was part of my solution. Even before I was a therapist, I knew me and I knew I’ve got to have a fun plan when my daughter’s away from me so that I can thrive even alone. Those are some of the things I talked to parents about is how we handle the handoff and then what do we do with our alone time. Quite honestly, that can be a very tempting area. Maybe they haven’t had a lot of interest in drinking in the past. And yet there’s some curiosity about just numbing out to this feeling of loss and loneliness and sadness because sometimes those emotions have more space in our life when our kids are away, the temptation for maybe alcohol, or I don’t know how honest I can be on this, but just some of the things I’ve seen my clients struggle with, there are this thing we call the internet.

Sure, so many interesting attractions and some of them are great. You can learn to cook. You can garden, or you can watch reels of people climbing Everest and doing really cool stuff. The Internet has lots of other places people can go that are hurting and help them cope with that.

I always just try to empower my clients to figure out ahead of time, what do you need for your best self-care so that when your children are away, you’re working on you and doing things that matter to you and that are important that maybe when you’ve got your house full of your kids in the chaos, you don’t always have time to enjoy.

Those are two of the biggest areas that carry that they might sound like a small puzzle piece, but they’re huge, ongoing, growing puzzle piece that impacts children. A healthy goodbye and what do you do with your alone time? It seems like you would really have to put some of your own feelings aside, especially like you said, in contentious custody situations where Maybe you don’t feel like that other parent has your child’s best interest at heart, or maybe you really want more time with them and things aren’t quite going your way the way that you had hoped.

I think in order to create that safe space and regulation for your child, it requires a certain level of self-sacrifice from the parents to be able to manage their emotions in a different way. There’s a big word that is on paper has, I don’t know, five syllables, maybe, but compartmentalize is an experience and a choice that we might not know we need to do it until somebody, a friend comes along and helps us with it.

Someone like you or I, we sit with people and help them on a regular basis. But finding a way to compartmentalize the difference between the adult relationship, right, the ongoing frustration, the pain, it’s a trigger, quite honestly, every time you see your co-parent, because it represents a broken relationship or a relationship that ended.

It’s an important thing to carry, I think, in working with our clients to see. When relationships end, there’s often one leaving and one getting left, and the one leaving maybe has already began to compartmentalize and to process the idea of the relationship ending, still being parents, wanting to see their kids as often as they can, but they’re moving forward away from the marriage. That person may have felt like they got left during the marriage. There certainly was disappointment, loss, grief. For whatever reason, there is a thousand reasons that relationships end that person who is leaving. They also probably feel like they got left earlier, but they get to that final decision that this isn’t working.

I think we need to separate. I’m going to go file papers. That person has already maybe compartmentalized it and they are starting to move forward. There’s the one that’s getting left who maybe feels like, well, we didn’t even, we only went to two counseling sessions. We didn’t really even try, like, let’s not give up yet.

It’s a different starting point for those two people, but in both cases, there’s the journey of getting to the acceptance and then the compartmentalization of that adult relationship shifting from being intimate partners to parents. When we shift to a different perspective of looking forward, and I use my hands a lot, your listeners won’t see all this that I’m doing, but we do start out very close and connected. Then we shift to what I would say is more of like shoulder-to-shoulder going forward, and still we are connected for the rest of life because we share a child or children. The most important compartmentalization is to figure out how to help yourself accept and let go of the pain in the past, like the work you do, the work I do.

So many wonderful professionals are available to help people with those transitions and then really build a life moving forward at some point, hopefully seeing this person as your co-parent partner, your business partner, your teammate. As you said earlier, Carrie, sometimes parents have concerns about that other partner and their parenting. Maybe when they were a couple, that person was not involved. They weren’t very active as a parent or maybe they were really involved and we don’t like how they parent. They might be very harsh. They might be very rigid and, or they might be very distracted and they just let kids do whatever and there are no boundaries.

Either way, I would say there’s always the question, is the child safe emotionally, physically, and sexually? Those are three areas that even as a co-parent strategist who believes children need the freedom to love both, to have as much time with both as possible, research shows that children do thrive when they have, quite honestly, I like to suggest 50-50, if both partners are able to be active, healthy parents.

There’s a lot that goes with that. Sometimes it’s not possible. Children are 2 and they need a different transition schedule than children that are 12. So all of those age and stage of development issues also come into play, but if there’s ever concern for a safety issue in any of those 3 areas then I always suggest that parents take a child to a specialist who works with kids, right? To do some play therapy, to explore what’s happening in this child’s life. If they’re little preteens or adolescents connecting with a healthy, trusted professional who could do a little safe place for kids to talk, but also do a little checking in with this child to see what’s really happening when they’re away from their parents.

Sometimes kids come and go and they tell part of a story, but they don’t always have it in context. I work with kids as well, age six and up, and sometimes part of what they parcel out to parents can sound alarming, but really they’re okay. It’s just they’re telling part of a story, not the whole story, because they’re a 13-year-old who wants what they want, if they want a cell phone.

One parent is like, no, it goes away charges in my bedroom at 9 o’clock and they don’t like that. Well, the parent that bought it for them may hear a different story about what the rules and regulations are because they want something different than their adult parent. But on the flip side, there are times when kids are not being cared for in a healthy way and are not be attended to.

I think getting that professional involved so that they can help not only investigate, but to help give guidance and support to the child, who, if there really is a safety issue, then they can help the family figure out a game plan. Sometimes supervised visits are where parents have to start, because maybe they’ve made some really big mistakes.

Sometimes both parents need some co-parent help, honestly, so they can communicate, check in with each other when there are concerns about their child. I am a huge advocate of both parents being greatly involved with their children, having the freedom to love them and enjoy them, and especially for the child to come and go without loyalty.

Without adults adding on to that loyalty bind of talking negatively about each other, that kind of thing. But I also am 100% always wanting to be sure that these kids are safe and being cared for well in both homes. And I’m grateful, so grateful for so many wonderful specialists that work with children that can help a parent understand what’s really happening when my child’s not with me. Because that’s a scary thing to be thinking about when they’re away. There are ways to tackle that as well.

Carrie: I’m thinking for our listeners dealing with anxiety and OCD, they may struggle with some of that rumination about what if this is happening while my child is over there? What if that’s happening?

What if they don’t stick to maybe we have an agreement, the co-parenting agreement and what if they don’t stick to that? I think this is from a spiritual, emotional perspective and mental perspective. How do you help people let go of those things that they are not in control of? Essentially that’s what anxiety and OCD try to do. It’s like we try to grab on and try to control everything that we can, even though we’re, there’s quite a bit we’re not acknowledging we’re not in control of.

Tammy: Well, you just made me think of so many times. I know in my own childhood, I think my parents were really different. I think part of what comes out post-divorce or in a divided relationship is when you were a couple and you could have eyes on what was happening, right? That gives you the peace of mind that I see what’s happening here. And probably even in that time and space, you couldn’t control everything. But you could still see what was happening. So you knew, okay, my worst fear is not happening right now. Moving into that season, whether it’s a couple days a week or week on week off in the shared parenting, I think part of it is my hope would be that you could create a communication bridge with your co-parent.

That accusing the person, jumping to conclusions, you could have some kind of check in process with each other, because what I see happen with co parents, and no matter what levels of anxiety or other scenarios are part of the system, the two adults, when they move apart from one another, begin to parent as separated parents.

The differences in their personality come out stronger, the differences in their belief systems come out, a former couple that maybe at the time they were together, yes, we’re Christians, we go to church, it’s a high priority in our life. Well, after a divorce, sometimes 1 of those 2 partners may go through a short or long season where they wrestle with their faith and they wrestle with being mad at God for a variety of reasons or thinking God’s mad at them. Those what they thought was those common values and spiritual dynamics in raising their children. A lot of times those change and i’ve heard so many parents say I don’t even know who this person is. We used to go to church, we used to value the same things and now he or she has said they’re an atheist or they’re going to go a whole different direction to a whole different belief system.

That is really hard to figure out. Oh, no. Like, how’s our child going to be in a household that quite honestly, maybe they’re going to be Buddhist? The other one is still really conservative Christian, and then kids come and go from a very different world. The personality differences come out bigger.

Sometimes something around values changes drastically. I think if there’s a way to build a bridge of communication with your co-parent, try to find the things that you do agree on, and continue to honestly express some gratitude, to be able to say, thank you so much for whatever it is. For taking Johnny to baseball on your parenting time.

It’s so great that he gets to enjoy baseball when he’s with each of us find places to agree and give gratitude. And then if you have concerns on some other areas, what I try to point parents to is the idea of having a co parent meeting. So that there’s a compartmentalized time and space that parents either talk by phone or they meet in public.

Honestly, I often suggest they meet in public at a coffee shop or a McDonald’s because parents act more respectful in public. Most of them do. People feel a little safer in public. If I’m going to sit down across the table from this person who I have a lot of anxiety being around, regardless of the past, it’s stressful. It’s awkward. It’s triggering being in a public setting can bring some calm to that and or sometimes having a third party help or create on ramp to that experience. That’s a big part of what I do in my work. And I might not work with a family for years, but four to six sessions to help them figure out how do we begin to be co parent business partners and have co parent meetings, communicate more effectively?

How do we manage our interactions when we’re around each other at our children’s school or their extracurricular activities? So that’s a big part of what I actually do. And anybody listening that’s really struggling with that. I would love the opportunity to walk alongside your family and help you both or even just help you one person in the equation, because I do find carry quite often.

There is one person who is really wanting to be a healthy co-parent. They want to build a communication plan with that person. The other one is just the stonewall, they don’t respond, or they are just really vindictive and ugly. But what I remind my clients about your kids are having an experience with you in their childhood that they will remember forever.

They will look back and remember the story that was written with you, and the story that was written with all the other adults and people in their family. Well, your co parent, you can’t make them do the wrong or stop doing the wrong thing, start doing the right thing. You can’t control them, which again is another high level of frustration.

Some of the basic things that you would think and expect are appropriate for your co parent to do or not do. Well, you no longer have a say in that and you no longer get to have eyes on that. But what you can do is keep doing the best thing with the parenting time you have, the way you filter out information and not tell your children all the adult stuff.

That is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is not talking ugly about the other parent, not telling them the things that frustrate you about their other parent, talk to your best friend or your counselor or pastor, find an adult to lean into, but not your kids. Parents that kind of put that verbal filter on and decide this is hard, but when my daughter asked me a question and I want to jump to a negative comment about their other parent, I’m going to try to find a way to filter to still give my daughter a meaningful response, but without accusation and emotional angst about the other person.

All the things we do in the privacy of our life with our kids. When they’re with us on our parenting time, those moments matter and those choices really do matter. Going back to the idea of the co parent meeting, when I talked to earlier about the handoffs and how to kids absorb that experience, and it’s so important.

I forgot to mention that above all things in a handoff, that is never, ever, ever the appropriate place or time to have a business meeting as parents. It’s not the time to talk about child support or, ” Hey, we need to swap next Friday for Tuesday, or You owe me 200 of co pays, or, Hey, I want to take our kids on a 4th of July event in two weeks that just happened, or, Oh, my second aunt’s grandmother’s father’s cousin died and we want to make a trip to Arkansas.” Those are all real things to talk about with your co parent, changing the schedule, talking about finances. Addressing, if you’re in the middle of a school year and you get a call that your child’s struggling with science, well, it’d be ideal to pull your co parent into that to try to collaborate and support your child. None of those topics should be addressed at the handoff. The handoff should be simple and positive, upbeat, like I said, kind of like you’re sending them off to camp. Give them the tools to go and thrive and enjoy the time and then find another time to invite that other parent to a conversation. And there’s four words, Carrie, that people stop saying when they’re divorced and they’re real simple.

I always ask my clients to write these down on my handouts that I give them. It’s just a question. And that question is simply, what do you think? So many parents stop asking the other parent what they think. About issues connected to their children, because when they’re divided, they do stop their communication goes way down.

Again, coming back to your questions of concern and anxiety and trying to control the things we can, but set expectations for the things we can’t. I find that if parents can move towards, over time, a compartmentalized process of when we’ll communicate about the topics of parenting, and when we won’t, right, we won’t talk about them at the handoff, we won’t talk about them at the band concert or the volleyball game or cheerleading practice or dance recital. Those are not the time spaces. We’re going to have a parent meeting, but we will find a time and space for maybe 1 hour to talk by phone, talk by Zoom, meet at McDonald’s and just stay focused on 2 or 3 things that are relevant in the next 3 months and asking each other.

I need your input. I’d like to know what you think about this. I’m seeing that our daughter potty training of all the things that are so hard. If you’re divorced, when you’re potty training your child, the best thing for your child would be for you all to talk once in a while, compare notes, not to cast blame and assume the other person isn’t doing right. But to enlist the other partner as the one other human in the world that loves your child more than anybody else on the planet. And even though the adult relationship may have ended, it might have been very hurtful. It might be still very hurtful. Remember that the other parent of your child, honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met a parent that would ever want to hurt their child.

They share that same passion and concern, even though they might start seeing things different, making decisions that are surprising and different, they still love your child. And if you can find a way to build a communication bridge with them, where, hey, is there a way we can check in with each other once in a while, just to find out, our daughter says something that’s kind of confusing.

Can I check in with you and you check in with me the same? She’s with you on your parenting time and. She says something that seems out of bounds with something that you’d be surprised, you’d be like, “What’s going on at the other house? Check in with me. Let’s be in this together.”

The biggest expectation as co-parents is to remember that who you were as a couple in the past, where you might’ve had more agreements, you might’ve come to a neutral way to do things that you’re both satisfied, turning the dial way down on that moving forward, because you’re going to be different. And the beautiful thing is that Ron Deal has this story he tells about kids coming and going from two different countries.

They might live in the same zip code, but they’re still coming and going from two different countries, countries that have different customs, different schedules, different values. But kids can thrive and adjust into those countries back and forth. But the thing that’s hardest on them is if those two countries go to war.

If they’re exposed to that war verbally, emotionally, or if they witness arguments and frustration, or they hear negative words about the other country, then the loyalty bind, the confusion, the emotional stress for them rises way up. We want to remind parents that there’s going to be more differences now than ever moving forward as co-parents.

If you can find a way to check in and communicate so that you can both feel like it’s okay to ask my co parents some questions. But even the tone of voice that I take, I approach it with a positive assumption that I, I’m missing information and that I need their insight and that they’re fine to call me and check in and ask questions because if they hear something and they feel like they’re missing part of the information, I’m going to be honest and share with them.

Unfortunately, sometimes starts happening in those communication points is there’s an assumption that the other person is not doing it right. They did something wrong. And why would you do it that way? That’s not the way we’ve done it. That’s not what we said we do. Right? And people get quickly in less than 10 seconds into a hostile conversation.

Of course, nobody is going to want to parent with you, or be your partner so I think part of it is regulating ourselves when we do have fear. We have some topics that have come up that we’re really concerned about. We have self-regulation and then approaching our co-parent as a team member, somebody that we want to build a team with and try to speak into that in a positive way, and that takes a lot of emotional muscles that are pretty light when we first divorce, but they get stronger over time. Hopefully having a time to have a co parent meeting could be a touch point that maybe it happens once a quarter or at the beginning once a month, and then grows less time once a quarter, just so that you both have a time to talk and to approach each other, not in defensive mode, but in curiosity mode.

Again, remember to say, thank you, leading the way with gratitude. I have seen really be a powerful thing. When someone says thank you to their other parent, not because they are grateful for the adult dynamic between them, but for that person being a loving parent or doing something kind and loving for the child, that can change everything.

If we feel like we’re on the same team. And we’re being grateful or beginning to lead with gratitude, then the hard stuff is still hard, but the other party might be more open to walking alongside us instead of feeling like we’re putting up defenses and there’s a brick wall between us and don’t talk to me and call my lawyer. We don’t want that.

I think this is all very helpful and practical information. And so usually we wrap up our podcast with a story of hope, which is a time that you’ve received hope from God or another person.

Well, I’ll go back. My daughter’s 23 now. When she was about two and a half, I remember a night that I waved goodbye. It was a handoff for maybe a couple of days and I’m a high extrovert and coming into an empty home all by myself. I was really hurting. And I did a happy goodbye, but then I remember literally sitting on my couch and letting that wave of emotional pain, it just came up and I let myself cry for a while.

It was one of those gut-wrenching cries that it comes from inside somewhere that is hard. And I remember talking to the Lord and I was sitting on a couch at the beginning and ended up on kind of on my knees next to the couch at the end. And. Just crying out to God, like, this is not how it was supposed to be and yet I felt the Lord truly meet me there and almost in a sense, lift my head and say, Tammy, I am still here. And I was saying something about being alone. He’s like, you’re never alone. I am with you. I am with your baby girl. I love you. You are not alone. And it was like, literally felt a bit like a big warm hug from the Lord meeting me right there in that point of pain and letting me know that even when she’s away from me, he is with her. Not only was he expressing comfort and grace and support to me, but reminding me that he was her God too. There’s nothing that goes beyond his reach. And that day I remember just sitting there then with a different level of peace than I’d ever felt before.

I do think letting myself cry and feel it was healthy and then not being afraid to be wrong with God. That was one of those moments. I am kind of angry about this. Like, this is not what it was supposed to be. and yet, God came in there and he’s like, “Tammy, I am with you. I am with her. I will walk with you and you will never be alone.”

I can tell you 20 years later, absolutely true. Emotionally, financially, everything, the Lord has been so gracious to taking the next step. And I feel like I’m in the middle of the ocean about to go under and the Lord puts a rock under my foot. And he stabilizes me and then the next step, and then the next step, I was so grateful for his response to me and just being able to take the hard stuff, you know, to recognize that of all the times in my life here.

I am in the hardest season living alone and yet I had never and once I really let that sink in. It really did, it changed everything for me. I was grateful and continue to be grateful, obviously for getting in the word, but also getting with other people and regular meetings of Bible studies or small groups, or just finding fellowship with people.

I guess that’s my story of hope is that none of us are designed to go at any of these hard things alone. And I think the Lord designed the church and the big picture church to walk alongside together. And I’m grateful that along those years, the Lord placed other people in my life and let me be part of things that where I wasn’t alone and I was able to sit with other people and I can tell you divorce care was a great thing I went through.

It was very helpful and that’s something people can go online, find, put their zip code in divorce cares website, find a group near you. They’re all over the world and go once a week and sit with other people on a similar path. Learn and grow in a safe place and that helped me too. So I hope that that’s helpful for your listeners and they can certainly reach out to our website.

We do have a lot of free resources and handouts and tools that they can enjoy privately or they certainly want to get in touch and work on things directly. That’s also an option, but our website has a click through where you contact us and if you’re a parent or a professional. You click a few questions and then we’ll be there to walk with you and give you some great hope and some tools.

The last thing I do want to say that I forgot to say earlier, Carrie, one thing I didn’t know 22 years ago. Is there some brilliant software technologies out there called co parenting apps? Okay. And boy, howdy, I wish I would have had one. We have a handout on that with a lot of the cool co parent apps and tools digitally that help them organize life.

Google that phrase or come get that handout from us, but that one piece of a puzzle could have made everything a lot easier because those apps are brilliant tools for divided families. So, I’ll let you wrap up because I tend to talk so much, but thanks for your patience. And it’s been so fun to be with you today talking about these tough topics.

Carrie: Thank you for sharing. Appreciate that. I got to thinking about what Tammy was communicating to us about the handoff and how relevant this is for parents and children who are anxious, especially for parents that are anxious about dropping their child off and really trying to work through their own emotions and fears maybe about their anxious child going to school and how they’re going to do.

A lot of times, children who are anxious are really sensitive to adults emotions and can tell when adults are anxious. I thought maybe if any of you have an anxious child or teenager, you could apply some of those same things that she was talking about related to the handoff in terms of dealing with your child and dropping them off at school or camp or church or other places where they’re going to be away from you and might have that separation anxiety come up.

The timing of this conversation is interesting to me because I have a toddler who I am handing off to Mother’s Day Out programs this week and trying to just think in my own mind, why is it that she feels okay walking into these strange or new environments? And I think it’s just because I haven’t ever made a big deal about dropping her off places. I don’t know if that helps anyone or not. That sense that we can give our children that mom’s okay with it. And so then we can be okay with it too. If you need a daily dose of encouragement, you’re welcome to hang out with us on Instagram. You can find us at. At Hope for Anxiety and OCD podcast.

We’re on Facebook as Hope for Anxiety and OCD, if you prefer that platform. And of course you can always contact us via our website at hopeforanxietyandocd.com.

Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By The Well Counseling. Our show is hosted by me, Carrie Bock, a licensed professional counselor in Tennessee.

Opinions given by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of myself or By The Well Counseling. Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum. Until next time, may you be comforted by God’s great love for you.