If you split up with your ex because you couldn't get along, parenting time can still be filled with verbal war games, dirty tricks, and bursts of anger. How do some divorced parents still manage?
In this episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, host Billie Tarascio talks with Certified Divorce Coach Tessa Noel of Kind Mama Divorce Coaching for some tools you can use to diffuse the anger with your ex, especially when it comes to co-parenting. Tessa features a weekly free support group, by phone on Wednesdays. The best part of these tools is that you are completely in charge once you put them to work for you.
Tessa found the path to her purpose as a divorce professional after her own divorce and custody battle in 2017. Driven to protect her two young children from divorce related trauma, she dedicated herself to learning how to create a stable, healthy environment for her family during the period of transition.
And don't forget, if you or your ex is dealing with an alcohol problem that's putting those parenting time visits on the line, check out Soberlink.com/modern for a discount on using a court-accepted device to prove sobriety.
High Conflict Parenting Solutions with Tessa Noel
[00:00:00] Announcer: We hope you enjoy this episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, but first, a message from our sponsor.
[00:00:06] Billie Tarascio: At Modern Law, we don't believe in a one size fits all solution, and we understand that some clients need full representation using every tool in the legal toolbox. This is especially true for custody and alcohol cases, which is why Soberlink has been one of the most important tools for my client.
Soberlink Remote alcohol monitoring tool has helped over 500,000 people prove their sobriety with peace and mind during their parenting Time to begin receiving real time alerts that your child is safe. And to receive $50 off your device, visit soberlink.com/modern.
Billie Tarascio: Hello and welcome to another Modern Divorce podcast episode.
I am your host, Billie Tarascio, the owner of Modern Law Divorce attorney, and we also are the owners of Win Without Law School. And um, I do over and today I am joined by an expert who's going to walk [00:01:00] us through transitioning from very high conflict divorces into workable and healthy. Co-parenting relationships.
And that might not be exactly what you think it is, but we're gonna talk about that. And today we are joined by Tessa Noel with Kind Mama Divorce Coaching. How are you doing today? Tessa?
[00:01:16] Tessa Noel: Good. Thank you for asking and thank you so much for having me on, Billie. Absolutely. Happy to talk. I I follow you on your social, so I was just honored when, um, you guys reached out and asked me to, to be a part of this.
Oh, I'm a certified Divorce coaching co-parenting specialist and, um, I think we follow each other on, on our socials.
[00:01:34] Billie Tarascio: Well, I was just gonna say, if, if you, you have a great social, um, platform I see you most on TikTok, I think you're also on Instagram, right?
[00:01:43] Tessa Noel: Yeah, I'm coach kind mama on both platforms
[00:01:46] Billie Tarascio: and I just love your content.
I think it's, it's really great. It's really kind of grounding and very much perfect for people who are kind of in the moment, I think, and coming out of a fire head conflict Divorce. So [00:02:00] tell me about what you do.
[00:02:04] Tessa Noel: Um, so I work mainly with moms who are going through high conflict Divorce, and I really like to give them kind of a, a bigger perspective, uh, uh, of what they want going into this co-parenting relationship.
Right. And a lot of times I see. To be frank, completely unrealistic expectations. Um, so I don't know if you see these, um, videos on TikTok of these I idealistic co-parenting relationships where they're having, they just went through a Divorce a year ago and they're having blended family birthday parties, and the new girlfriend is best friends with the bio mom and.
Everyone gets along and they've got like this flexible parenting schedule where you just take the kids whenever, whenever you want them. [00:03:00] Um, that's completely unrealistic. If you're coming out of a high conflict Divorce, you aren't afforded the luxury of being best friends with your ex. And frankly, I, I don't see why you would want to want to be.
Um, but so what I do is I manage these expectations and I offer tools, um, for high conflict. Communication. So that, and, and really effective methods of setting strong boundaries with your co-parent. I like to see the shift go from, you know, these expectations and thinking you're gonna be best friends with your high conflict co-parent to.
As long as I keep the children out of the conflict of my Divorce and we're making decisions that are child centered, that is a successful co-parenting relationship. Right. And um, so I'm a life coach, so I sit down with my clients. We talk about what's going on in their life. I connect them with their best self [00:04:00] and who they want to be five years from now, right?
Who, what, what they want for their children, what they want for their co-parenting relationship. And then I set steps in order to get to that best self, right? I'm gonna make sure that my clients are, are developing that the habits and routines to reach that goal.
[00:04:24] Billie Tarascio: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And you know, there there is, there are a lot of people out there who don't have realistic expectations and then there's a lot of judgy people out there who will flippantly say, well, why can't you all just get along for the best interest of the kids?
It's not that hard. How many times have I heard it's not that hard? Which is ridiculous because we're talking about a relationship, which means it's unique. So might not be that hard for one set of humans. Is not gonna work the same for another set
[00:04:57] Tessa Noel: of humans. Exactly. [00:05:00] Especially fresh out of a Divorce.
Yeah. And so what I like to, to see is this period of detachment where you're redefining your relationship after Divorce. Mm-hmm. There needs to be this detachment from the old toxic dynamic that existed in the marriage, and you need to completely rewrite those rules. Right. Um, maybe you're used to.
Criticizing the other person or, or constantly telling them how to parent. That can't exist. If you're going to have a healthy co-parenting relationship, there needs to be this period where you're pushing the reset button and saying, all of these roles and expectations that existed aren't going to exist anymore.
And I'm going to learn how to be a cooperative co-parent. And it's funny because I recently heard another Divorce coach. Talking about how unless you have two, um, dedicated, committed co-parents, um, [00:06:00] successful co-parent is a pipe, co-parenting is a pipe dream. And I thought, no, no it's not. That's it. Only takes one dedicated parent.
To, to set a goal of I'm going to have a good co-parenting relationship. Right. And it's gonna be hard and it's gonna take a lot of research and it's gonna take dedication. But if you're, you can have whatever you want, right? I know from experience, I'm not ever gonna teach anyone anything that I haven't lived myself.
So I know that you can say, I'm gonna have a great relationship with my co-parent one day, as for now, I'm going to implement these boundaries and these tools so that we can stay focused on the children. Yeah,
[00:06:41] Billie Tarascio: I, I think that that is a great point, and what is a great co-parenting relationship? It's going to change over time.
The other thing I wanna mention is that when you are going through litigation, so you've got the, what you were describing, the toxicity of a broken marriage, which always exists before you're getting divorced. Then for many people, they go into litigation. [00:07:00] Litigation is even worse. Then what was happening in your house before you were breaking up?
Because now every conversation is a potential exhibit. Any mess up that somebody makes is ammunition is a tool that can be used for somebody else. Litigation. It just is what it is. It pits people against each other. That's the whole point. So coming out of that, People are probably at their lows relationship wise and recognizing that this is our low and I want this to be our low, so how do I make sure that it gets better from here?
[00:07:35] Tessa Noel: Right? What I see as well is a lot of these parents making fear-based decisions, right? They're, they're letting the fear of, what if this is gonna get me into trouble? Mm-hmm. I wanna plan a vacation with my kids, but I know that if I tell 'em the dates, Um, they're gonna do something and they're gonna ruin it.
So how do I, so then they're, they're, you know, caught in this [00:08:00] decision. Do I just sneak and do it? Do I or do I do it the right way and end up having to go back to court and getting a court order so I can take my kids on vacation, right? It's like they're being constantly with these, these fear-based decisions.
Um, and so what I like to say is just, Always follow your parenting plan, your court order parenting plan. Absolutely. That is the boundary, right? And fresh off of that Divorce, as soon as you get that co-parenting or that parenting, that court order parenting plan, you don't yet, you don't yet have the ability to be flexible with that boundary.
Um, after it's put into pla practice and you guys are, are getting along better. Yes, be flexible with it, but as soon as you get that court order parenting plan, stick to it. You don't want something. To be used against you. Right. Also, um, keep your communications in writing. I like to see my clients using a, a parenting app, um, and [00:09:00] research methods of high conflict communication, right, so that you're not accidentally trigger triggering your high con conflict Co-parent.
I actually came up with my own, um, method after researching all of the methods, right? Gray rock, yellow. Rock, Biff Method, everything. I kind of came up with my own cuz it has to be. This, this balance. You can't go no contact with your co-parent. You can't, and, and it's gonna make family court think that you are the high conflict co-parent, right?
Refusal to co-parent. And in a lot of states, your ability to co-parent is factored in when they're determining custody. So, um, I came up with the kind method of co-parenting communication. Um, it's k i n D, so the K stands for keep it short. Does this, um, does this message from my co-parent even require a response?
If so, keep it short. [00:10:00] Uh, two to three sentences. Never a paragraph. The I is it informs of the answer, um, but doesn't offer explanations. Doesn't offer advice. Um, we're not going to say sorry. Or use, or use, um, the word unfortunately, sorry, could be taken as an admission of guilt as you know. Um, unfortunately just sets the tone you're gonna use.
Um, as it turns out, instead, Keep it nice, but not condescending. So customer service friendly, add a little high at the beginning, and uh, you know, may maybe you have a nice day at the end, maybe not. Um, and then the D is for, determines the end of the conversation or gives two options. Um, you're, if they're gonna message you with some wild, crazy accusations, you're just gonna respond to it as, um, you know, that's not true.
Um, but, You wanna acknowledge their concern or frustration, but don't repeat it, just keep it as short as possible. And so [00:11:00] that's the kind method that I came up with. But the first step is of that, is always, always determine if it's even, uh, even re, re requires a response.
[00:11:12] Billie Tarascio: Absolutely. And at first, when you're in a very, very toxic dynamic, It literally feeds itself and you're feeding each other and sometimes cutting that off and not responding and really letting that like kind of detox happen can be a really great
[00:11:30] Tessa Noel: thing, right?
Because you are letting them know we're not just gonna chat about the things that went wrong in my marriage. That doesn't, that doesn't exist anymore. You don't have access to me like that anymore, and I will not just. You know, it's not enough to just try to set a boundary with them. It's not enough to say, we don't talk only, only message me about the kids.
You don't even respond to messages like that because it doesn't have anything to do with the kids. You don't have to. And, um, you gotta protect your peace. [00:12:00] Right.
[00:12:01] Billie Tarascio: So what are some common mistakes that you see people make in their high conflict relationships coming out of Divorce? Um,
[00:12:10] Tessa Noel: I think. Is continuing that dynamic, continuing that toxic dynamic.
Not having that period of detachment. They think that, oh, I'm just gonna teach them that I'm gonna stand up to them now. They can't control me anymore. But then they're continuing this frequent contact with, with the co-parent, where they're going back and forth and they're getting in fights with them.
And it really takes a lot of self-reflection and being able to detach from your own ego and say, my ego wants to defend myself. My ego wants to get in a conversation with this person. But for the best, for my children and for the best of keeping my peace, I'm just going to let it sit. Right. And not getting wrapped up in that same dynamic and not getting pulled into those arguments like you used to.
Right? And being able to say, [00:13:00] Ooh, I really wanna respond to this person. And I really want to say, tell 'em what I think. And just, and being able to fight that urge and not respond at all. That's what's going to help rewrite that dynamic and help stop the toxicity.
[00:13:15] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Um, and how often do you see people transition from a high conflict co-parenting relationship to one That is pretty good.
[00:13:26] Tessa Noel: It really depends. I mean, I have clients that are 10 years out, right. And still dealing with the same things that they dealt with in their marriage. And they're just now finding me and I'm teaching them these methods of boundary setting and these methods of effective communication, and they're going, why didn't I?
Why didn't I have you 10 years ago? It's because 10 years ago, they didn't make that choice to say, I'm no longer going to let this toxic dynamic exist, and I'm going to set a goal to not have this control my life anymore and [00:14:00] not make fear-based decisions and not continue the conflict. Right. You. You really have to set that as a goal in your life and say, this is not going to continue.
Um, and then move forward, figuring out how to make that a possibility, reaching out to resources, taking classes, reading books to figure out how to, um, release yourself. From, from that toxicity. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
[00:14:26] Billie Tarascio: So what you're saying is it really does not matter what the other person does. You yourself can make choices and take actions that will completely change the dynamic.
That is what I'm hearing you say.
[00:14:37] Tessa Noel: That's exactly what I'm saying.
[00:14:43] Billie Tarascio: What's that? That's empowering. That's great news.
[00:14:48] Tessa Noel: Right? Right. Um, and I feel like a lot of people think they're stuck still, right? They're, they, they want to escape this, this high [00:15:00] conflict person, but then they have to continue co-parenting with that person. And through that, you know, comes manipulation and, um, accusations and control.
And it feels like, why did I even get divorced if I'm still. Stuck. Right. And that's the word stuck is I hear my clients saying, I feel stuck. I don't know what to do next. We're still fighting, we're still doing this, and, and it takes a lot of work, but it's possible for sure. Okay. That's what I teach my clients to do every day,
[00:15:32] Billie Tarascio: so I love that.
And you run a support group, correct.
[00:15:38] Tessa Noel: Yes. So every Wednesday night at 5:00 PM Pacific, I do an hour long support group. So for that support group, I'm really stepping out of my role as a coach and I act more of as a facilitator. And I let my, um, the attendees who are. Moms going through Divorce, kind of connect with each [00:16:00] other.
And what's really cool is we've got a chat section in the, in the, it's audio only, so you don't actually see the person and you could, it gives kind of more of a comfort in being able to talk about what you're going through. And it's only moms in that group. But, um, there's a little chat feature and what I found out is some of my clients are using the chat feature to say, Hey, what city are you in?
I'm in San Diego too. And they, they actually, two of the members of the support group met for coffee the other day. They both, um, realized they were in the same city. And so, um, it's really amazing because that was the whole point of this group is to be able to offer a safe. Space for moms to talk about their experience and connect with each other.
And that's, to see that that's happening is I'm, it just makes me so happy. That is awesome. Oh, but the link is, yeah, it is. It is. Um, so if you, it's free, and so if you go to any of my socials, my, um, coach, kind, mama, Instagram, or TikTok, the link for that group is in my bio.
[00:16:59] Billie Tarascio: [00:17:00] Wonderful. And if people wanna contact you for coaching, how can they?
[00:17:02] Tessa Noel: do that?
They can go to my website, kind, mama Divorce coaching.com, or again, any of my socials. Just click the link in my bio.
[00:17:12] Billie Tarascio: Awesome. Well, Tessa, thank you so much for coming on the show and for sharing these wonderful, empowering tips that people can take away today and start changing their co-parenting relationship.
It's been a very valuable episode. Check out Tessa, make sure you check out her support group. You check out her coaching. I think she's a tremendous resource for people who really wanna change this co-parenting dynamic. And if you've enjoyed this episode, make sure to download it, rate it, give us some.
Tell your friends about it, share it, and if you know a great guest, reach out to us and let us know. Tessa, thank you so much for being here today.
[00:17:47] Tessa Noel: Thank you, Billie. I know you're very busy, so, uh,
[00:17:53] Billie Tarascio: One consistent theme you'll hear from me, Billie Tarascio, is that we do not believe in a one size fits all [00:18:00] solution. That's why at Modern Law you can find anything you need for your family law case. For the highest stakes litigation cases, we've got experienced family law attorneys who can offer you representation.
We also have embraced. Newly licensed legal paraprofessionals who can offer you legal representation for less. And if you just need your documents prepared, we can offer certified legal document preparers as well. If that's not for you, and instead you are representing yourself, congratulations, you are like one of the 70% of people out there doing it on your own and our newest offering.
Win without law school can help. For more information about win without Law school, go to win without law school.com. To get representation options, go to my Modern Law dot com.
Thanks so much for listening to the Modern Divorce podcast. Remember, anything you've heard today or anything you read online is not the replacement for actual consultation with an attorney and does [00:19:00] not create an attorney-client relationship. Even if you called in and we spoke to you, you are anonymous and we don't have your details and you have not become a client of Modern Law.
However, we would love to speak with you, or you should seek out the advice of legal counsel or counseling or any other expert near you, and if you have. An idea for a show topic or you need to speak with an attorney in Arizona, you can reach me at email@example.com.