In this episode, we’re joined by authors Daniella Rigon and Tracey Duff, creators of “Child-centred Co-Parenting” which focuses on shifting to child-centric co-parenting, prioritising children’s needs over personal feelings.
Tracey shares her co-parenting journey with her son Josh’s dad, Daniella offers insights into joining an instant family when she met Josh’s dad and they both reveal how they’ve made blended family life thrive for them and the kids.
Their best tips? They stress effective communication, avoiding bad-mouthing and relinquishing control of the things that don’t matter for a healthier co-parenting dynamic.
If harmonious co-parenting seems unattainable or you’re simply looking for ways to improve your co-parenting relationship, this episode is for you.
Tracy Duff (00:00): The little things you’re probably arguing because you want to argue with the other person. The big things like school, religion, medical, all of those sorts of things you need to agree to and then put them and register them in your parenting plan so you never need to discuss them.
Laura Jenkins (00:12): In The Blend is a podcast series that helps parents navigate life within a blended family. Join me as I speak with experts and guests to get practical advice on how to have a harmonious blended family life. This series dives deep into the unique dynamics, logistics and challenges of raising a blended family from new partners to juggling mixed finances. We will help guide you through it. In this episode, we’re joined by authors Daniella Rigan and Tracy Duff, creators of child-centered co-parenting. Now, Danny and Tracy are not just co-authors, they’re also part of the same big blended family with Tracy being mom to a son, Josh and Danny, Josh’s stepmom. During our chat, Tracy shares her co-parenting journey from when Josh was a baby. Through into adulthood, Danny offers her insights into what it was like to join an instant family when she met Josh’s dad and they both reveal how they’ve made blended family life work very well for everyone. I was so inspired by this chat and their mission to enable families to move past their upset in order to be able to co-parent successfully, not only for the sake of their children, but for themselves as well. If harmonious co-parenting seems unattainable or if you’re simply looking for ways to improve your co-parenting relationship, this episode is for you. Well welcome Tracy and Danny. I’m so delighted to have you both here today. Thank you very much for joining me on the show.
Tracy Duff (01:56): Thanks for having us. So happy to be here.
Laura Jenkins (01:57): Wonderful. Well, Tracy, let’s start with you. So you have a son, Josh, who you co-parent with, your ex- partner Dave, and you’ve been doing so since he was about eight months old. Is that right?
Tracy Duff (02:11): Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, he’s actually now a man. He’s 24 years old now, so we’ve been doing co- parenting together and we don’t obviously co-parent today, but we co-parented him since he was eight months old for about the first 20 years. Wow. Yeah, so I don’t think it was that common. When we first started co-parenting, most people had the primary caregiver being the mom, and we both decided as soon as we split up that we wanted to make sure that the impact of our divorce was minimized as much
as possible for our son. We knew we were going to have a very long time co-parenting with each other, so we put some rules in place and we put a process in place that will enable our son to spend time with both of us equally, although we weren’t great partners for each other and when we were married, it wasn’t the most amazing marriage. Dave is an amazing father and Danny will attest to that, and he thought I was an amazing mother, and we just focused on that relationship for our son so that we could keep it as peaceful as possible for him over a very long period of time.
Laura Jenkins (03:16): I love that, and I’m so impressed that you’ve gone on to write a book about this as well, which is called, Child-Centred Co-Parenting and we’re going to talk a little bit more about that, but can you tell me a little bit more about that co-parenting journey for you, Tracy? And it sounds now like you’ve got this all figured out, so I’d love to understand a little bit about what it might’ve been like in those early days and how things naturally transitioned over time.
Tracy Duff (03:51): I think the most important decision that Dave and I made in the beginning was that we would put our love for Josh before our issues with each other. I think there’s a misconception even to our family and friends that we mustn’t have had a volatile divorce or relationship and that’s why we were able to co- parent Josh, but it just wasn’t the case. What we chose to do was focus on what we were going to move forward with, which was a co-parenting relationship for him. There’s obviously all of the early issues that you have when you separate or divorce. If someone moves on, somebody’s smiling, they’re happy, what’s going on, why can they move on before me? There’s jealousy, there’s lots of control issues because you don’t necessarily get to decide what happens in that person’s life anymore, and there’s a lot of hurt as well.
(04:38): That all happened and we were still able to co-parent by putting Josh first. And I guess through trial and error we managed to find a formula that really worked well for us. And then Danny and I sat together for a very long time and we put it together into a book to help other parents. When we’ve tried to explain how we co-parent to Josh, to other people, they just couldn’t get it and it was because a lot of, they’re bringing a lot of emotions into it, which understandably and influence from other people. They’d speak
to family, friends or other influences that just said, you’re supposed to hate your ex. You’re not supposed to like them. You’re not supposed to have a peaceful relationship. But in ignoring all of that and doing what we did, our son has turned into just the most beautiful young man, and Danny will attest to that as well.
(05:28): And peace for us. It’s not just for your children, initially it was for him, but we have managed to form this beautiful blended family with extra love for our son, extra love for us, like an amazing friendship between Danny and I, which we never would’ve had. So there’s lots of benefits and I guess if you focus on the past and what hurt you and all of the reasons that you’re not together, instead of focusing on the life that you can build for yourself, you’ll have a really difficult time. So we are hoping that child- centered co-parenting can help families to focus on the things that they can do to minimize the impact of divorce and separation on their children, and also minimize the impact of the pain and the suffering that you are already going to go through, minimize it to a shorter period of time.
Laura Jenkins (06:17): Absolutely. It’s very inspiring listening to you speak, and I’m not surprised that others were surprised to see that you were navigating this song well, because it really is quite rare. Before we get into more of the detail of the book, Danny, let’s turn to you. So I’d love to hear from your perspective what it was like inheriting an instant family thoughts when you met Dave, which I take it, it’s going back a little while now as well.
Daniella Rigon (06:47): Yeah, so I think the thing for me was, so we were together for a little period of time and then we actually split up because I thought, I dunno if I can do this. I remember we got together not long before Christmas and Dave said, would you like to come over and have breakfast with Josh and his mom? And I was like, hell no. I’m not having breakfast with your ex-wife. I didn’t want a piece of it in the beginning. I really didn’t want a piece of it. And so I had to think very carefully about making a choice to be in this type of a relationship knowing that it was going to be very different. I was a little free bird, I didn’t have to consider anybody at that time. And so walking into a relationship where it was very clear that Josh was first, and that I think is very easy when that’s your biological child, but he wasn’t my child.
(07:35): So to go into relationship and make decisions, financial decisions, decisions about where we were going to spend time, all of those things having to take into account a child that wasn’t mine. And so I didn’t have that close relationship with in the beginning. Initially I walked away and thought, oh, this isn’t for me. Then on reflection I decided that I was going to give it a go. And in deciding to get back together with Dave, I thought, if I’m going to do this, then I want to be as positive, make as positive contribution
as Dave and Tracy had. And so I really made a choice to do my best to make that happen. So in the beginning it wasn’t like it is now. I was definitely very jealous. I know sometimes people are jealous of their exes for a number of reasons, but for me, my biggest issue was that I was going to be involved in a relationship with somebody that had done everything before he’d been married, he’d had a child before and that’s what my issues were.
(08:34): And I think for me what really helped me get over that was Dave was such an amazing partner and made me feel very secure in my relationship with him. He included me in everything. I never felt like an outsider. I never felt that there was a little triangle with the three of them and I was on the outer. He always made me feel very involved and very included and as relationship progressed, so did Tracy. So I think that’s really what helped me to go into this and to make such a positive impact as a stepmom. And then of course as time went on that love developed for Josh and then even more so when I had my own children and I don’t really see him as Dave’s son to me, he’s really my children’s brother. So as our relationship and marriage has progressed, my love for Josh has become even stronger. And now I’ll take him and Dave can go. I prefer,
(09:26): I love him wholeheartedly. But I think what we have to, particularly for the biological parents, that doesn’t come straight away for a stepparent. You are walking into a family dynamic where that love initially, well for me was not there. And so it really was making a conscious choice to have Josh part of my life. And also Tracy. I knew that I couldn’t go into this relationship and just pretend like there wasn’t an ex-wife around. I knew she was going to be there. She was going to be a very big part of Josh’s life, which meant she was going to be a very big part of my life and I had to navigate my way through my jealousy and all the other issues that were inhibiting me from being able to move forward positively. So with my partner’s love and understanding. And then later on Tracy I was able to do that.
Laura Jenkins (10:13): I identify with so much of what you say there, Danny. Personally, I was in very similar situation to you when I met Matt. He had two young children at the time. So I was the free bird, inherited the instant family as well. And some of the issues you speak of jealousy, I certainly went through stages of that as well. And I think that’s incredibly common for a new stepmom.
Daniella Rigon (10:39): Oh, definitely.
Laura Jenkins (10:40): To get your head around all of those different emotions and things that going on
Daniella Rigon (10:46): Because it’s quite unnatural, I think people are always jealous of their partner’s ex, well, not always, sometimes thinking, oh, I dunno if they’ve got a better job. Are they more beautiful where you compare yourself, but this is a person that is not in your past. This is a person that is part of your life. So yeah, the jealousy is I think more intense because you have to see them all the time.
Laura Jenkins (11:08): Yes. But it’s refreshing to hear how you came back to the relationship, very mindful of what those issues were that were getting in your way and that sounds like you’ve been able to very effectively park them to one side or eradicate altogether. I want to move on to the book, so something that really stood out for me as a key message when I read it was around how people in a blended family situation or co- parents really need to shift their mindset from that self-centered approach to the child centered approach where they’re really placing needs of the children ahead of their own. So can you give some examples of that in practice from your experience?
Tracy Duff (11:52): Yeah, I think the first thing to realize is, which is the operating relationship. So if you are going to think that the other person is always going to be your partner, you’re going to treat them like that as well. If you’re going to treat them like the co-parent of your child, the conversations that you have, the influence that you have, et cetera in their lives will be limited to that. And that’s a really big mind shift for a lot of people, particularly if you are co-parenting straight after separation, where you are used to the old dynamic, the old way of communicating all of the hurt and pain kicking in and influencing your decisions. So we limited what we spoke about after a period of time. Look, we had some very blurred boundaries in the beginning and Danny was able to help us to reestablish those, but we were able to focus on things that related to Josh’s life and we agreed on it through a parenting plan.
(12:43): And that’s things like guardianship issues like medical, religion, schooling, where he lived, et cetera, and anything else really was none of our business. And that is the biggest hurdle that I think a lot of co- parents come up against because you’re so used to having a hundred percent say in your child’s life and then all of a sudden in the little areas or the things that really don’t concern you, you don’t have any say at all and you have to trust that the other parent will do the best thing for your child. And if you’ve had
issues in your marriage where there are trust issues, it becomes even more difficult to do that. So yeah, the first step is to change the operating relationship and then talk to them like the co-parent. And I think you’ll have a much easier time if you’re going to refer to who they’re allowed to see, who they’re allowed to date, all of those sorts of things you’re going to get into a minefield. Just keeping it to the things that are important and relate to your child and their wellbeing is really the best advice we could give.
Daniella Rigon (13:46): I think something else on that is, and Tracy doesn’t talk a lot about it because Tracy and Dave have really made a commitment to not talk negatively about each other, but their marriage was not good and it was very, very volatile and so a lot of forgiveness had to take place for them to be able to co-parent. And there’s a section that Tracy wrote, and it’s my favorite part that she wrote about being able to let things go and why she found it so difficult because she found that carrying that hurt was a little bit like carrying her stripes and that to let go and forgive things would be like admitting or she was worried that we would just forget that they had taken place or that he had really hurt her. All those things had happened, but until she let go of that and was able to forgive, she wasn’t able to move on to co-parent. And that doesn’t mean admitting or suggesting that what happened in the marriage was okay, it just meant being able to let it go so that they could co-parent peacefully for Josh’s sake. So that’s my favorite part.
Tracy Duff (14:46): Yeah, there’s a chapter on it, we call it the F word and usually it’s a F word you might choose to use for your ex-partner, but in this case, that was the freedom that actually was a gift that I gave myself to be able to let go. And Dave also had to forgive me for things and my behavior as well, it wasn’t, it’s never going to be 50 50 in any relationship, but we both heard each other and if we chose to hang on to those things, you just get left with a lot of anger and resentment and you don’t have the energy to move on and create a new life for yourself. So we both knew we didn’t want to be with each other, but we both loved our son and we just focused on that. So yeah, it definitely was the catalyst for us being able to co- parent, but it’s a decision that you need to make for yourself, too bad for the other person whether if they want to hang on, they can hang on, but you only really retain things that you hold onto. So if you want to retain love, you can do that. And if you want to retain hate, you can do that. It’s a decision you got to make.
Daniella Rigon (15:46): And you had a bit of that mantra. Tracy had a line that she used to say to herself, my love for Josh is greater than my anger for Dave. And just remember that all the time.
Tracy Duff (15:55): And he wasn’t a bad father. There’s not one thing that I could say that would make him a bad father and that was going to be the relationship that he was going to have. If you could see the relationship that Josh has with all four parents, we are really proud of that. He’s equally close to both Dave and myself, but he also has a beautiful love for Danny. She has a beautiful relationship with him and my husband Scott, he adores Josh as well. I also have two stepchildren, so I’m operating on both sides and yeah, I guess the child ends up with more love, so why wouldn’t you try and make it a good environment for them? Josh is probably closest to Danny’s parents out of all of his grandparents. He spends a lot of time with them. When you’re not hanging on unforgiveness, your child is also free to love everybody. And when we don’t inhibit who he spends time with, what’s important, if it’s Danny’s dad’s birthday, Josh will see him. There’s nothing more important than the relationships that he has around him. We don’t
prioritize my dad’s birthday for example it’s equal to him and that’s how he sees it.
Daniella Rigon (17:02): Which is probably another good strategy that we use was the flexibility. So even though we had our parenting agreement and parenting plan laid out and custody agreement flexibility was a big part of it so that we could make sure that Josh got to spend time with all sets of his really four families now. Yes. So being flexible and not looking as well, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to make life easier for him or for her. It was really about that’s the people that love him. The more people that love him, the better and let’s do what we can and be flexible so that he can get to spend time with, he’s been blessed to have all these additional people that love him, so let’s make that happen.
Tracy Duff (17:38): And they know when you’re not being real. They know when you can say, oh, spend time with your grandparent, but then if you’ve got a sour face about it and you’re making a big deal about it, the child knows that that’s not what you mean. So how you communicate has to come more than just what you’re saying. It’s also how you look when you’re saying it. It’s the gestures, it’s your actions and we wholeheartedly support our whole blended family and it’s very obvious to Josh. So he never feels torn between one family or any of the four families I think.
Laura Jenkins (18:09): So there’s something in your book that I liked. For those who haven’t seen the book, there’s some illustrations throughout and there’s one section where there’s an illustration of someone doing the meet and greet with the co-parent at school pickup and they’re looking really miffed and kind of doing the cold shoulder and then it says instead of this try this and there’s someone saying, hi, how do you do? And I thought that was great because it’s just must be such a common thing where
Daniella Rigon (18:42): Well kids and look being a teacher as well, I see it all the time. I’ve really had the opportunity to see how bad things can get as well, which was one of the other reasons why I wanted to do my best for things to not play out that way for Josh because kids pick up on your energy, they pick up on your behavior, your gestures, everything. So sometimes they even say, look, if you’ve got to fake it till you make it, then you have to just put on that show so that your child doesn’t feel guilty because that’s what happens. They pick up and if they feel that they’ve upset their parent, they feel guilty and like eight year old, nine year old, 10 year old should not have to feel guilty about enjoying spending time with other parents. It’s really sad to watch a little person carry that. Really.
Laura Jenkins (19:25): Something else I wanted to come back to was this idea of letting go or really pushing control. And I know you mentioned it, Tracy, that’s something that comes up and you can’t control what the other parent does on their watch or what their house rules look like or who they might be dating. So what are some of the ways that people could go about actually doing that? Is it all a mindset thing?
Tracy Duff (19:57): Yeah, first I want to say that that was the hardest part and we both failed dismally at doing that initially. And it takes a lot of practice, but the more you focus on your own life and the less you focus on your ex- partners life, the easier it gets. I’ll tell you, there was a time I turned up to someone’s house because we had an agreement that each of us would give each other first right of refusal and Josh was staying somewhere else and I wanted him and I turned up there like an animal and I’m ashamed of a day, but I also had to forgive myself and think, well, you were going through such a tough time. I was jealous because David was dating someone. It was the, he moved on first and I just couldn’t cope with it. It was just really difficult because when someone moves on first, you’re still dealing with all of your issues.
(20:44): You think, well, it meant nothing to them. And that kind of confused into the whole scenario. And I turned up at that house and I was demanding Josh and it was horrible Josh, thankfully Josh never saw any of that, but I wanted to say that because I think a lot of people think we had no issues and that we didn’t have to find a way through, but we did the letting go of control. I know Dave also, and Danny will attest to this, had a really hard time doing because you are not going to be in that child’s life for 50% of the time if you are sharing equal time with your children, you can’t control who comes into the house, you can’t control where they go, what they watch, all of those sorts of things, what they eat when they eat. And Dave was a little bit more rigid in food, for instance.
(21:28): So he used to get quite upset when Josh didn’t eat at 12 o’clock and I would be more upset if Dave let him watch something on television. And we both had to figure out is this exchange of energy worth it? Is it actually harming Josh from Dave’s perspective if he eats at 1230? And for me, is it actually harming him if he’s watching something with his dad who is in full control of turning the television off? And you kind of have to weigh up what’s the exchange of energy going to achieve and is it worth my piece? The big things you have to put into your parenting plan. So the little things you’re probably arguing because you want to argue with the other person. The big things like school, religion, medical, all of those sorts of things you need to agree to and then put them and register them in your parenting plan.
(22:11): So you never need to discuss them. And generally if you’ve done that, you have a leg to stand on if the other parent isn’t going to adhere to those things or they disagree on it and move forward. That would be the best advice I would be giving for letting go of control, the things that are important, keep those in place and the things that aren’t think about the exchange. And also if you haven’t forgiven, you’re probably more likely to hang onto those things and try and use them as opportunities to have a dig at the other parents or trying to use those opportunities to make yourself appear a bit better apparent than the other one. I mean, in our case, I know that Dave’s an amazing parent. I just used to remind myself of that and think he loves him or he wouldn’t be doing this and I need to let it go.
(22:57): When the stepparents came in, I’ll admit I felt a lot more comfortable having another mom in place for the nurturing and all of those things that I wasn’t there to do. But that also takes work because there can be jealousy there when you are thinking, well, my child is very close to another woman. But yeah, once again, we just had to look at that and just think, well, Josh is being loved by someone, he’s safe, he has another mother in the house, he’s going to get all of the nurturing that he needs. And I was okay with that. But it takes practice lots and lots of practice and it doesn’t happen straight away.
Laura Jenkins (23:28): No, doesn’t happen overnight. I like the idea of parenting plans as well, and I’m keen to understand that process a little bit further. When you first separated, was that something that you bed down straight away, the parenting plan?
Tracy Duff (23:44): Because Josh was so young and he was eight months old, we had to put something in place to ensure that he had equal access to each parent because we agreed to do that. And that he also had communication happening between both parents regularly. So it might seem excessive, but when your child is eight months old, you have to speak a few times a day. It’s like when you send your child to daycare, there’s a communication book for you to write things in. And if you don’t have a great
relationship, you can put a communication book in between the two houses so that you can say, changed his nappy four times. Today was a little bit more wet or whatever’s happening, he didn’t really eat his meals, all of that sort of stuff. So in the beginning stage when they’re very young, communication is even more important and documenting it just keeps you both accountable.
(24:33): We put something into our parenting plan that I don’t see a lot of people do, and that was uninterrupted access to both parents. So if Josh was with me and he wanted to speak to his dad five times during the day, he could and vice versa. We never limited or restricted any parenting time. We both also respected our time with our child. So like Dave wasn’t turning up every five minutes saying, okay, let’s go to the park, or when on the time that I had with Josh. But we kind of operated it in a system of if we were together, would we be fighting about who spent more time with him, would we be fighting about who gave him his bottle, who changed his nappy, who took him to the park? And when we realized the answer was no, we thought, well, why would we fight about that now?
(25:16): So having structure is important, but also flexibility is important so that your child never feels that they can’t spend time with both parents equally. Our parenting plan also included things around special occasions. So for birthdays we did something more unusual. We shared his birthdays, we would take Josh out somewhere together so that he could always have those memories of having both parents together. We take him to the movies or whatever. And when our new partners came in, we do that now we share it with Josh’s sisters. We also put in special occasions for Christmas that we would share the occasions. So there’s never a Christmas that I don’t see my son, never a Christmas that Danny doesn’t see him or Dave doesn’t see him. Grandparents special occasions like Danny’s Italian. So there’s special occasions at Easter where she will have special on Good Friday, there’s something special that they do in their family.
(26:10): So Josh attends. We just put a lot of flexibility in there, but also that freedom for both parents to still be able to have special occasions and special time with our child. So he never missed out, but anything that’s important to you should be in your parenting plan. Religion was in there too, Catholic school? Yes, yes, we put that in there. And medical as well. We never did anything. There was an occasion I wanted Josh to get his tonsils and adenoids out very young and that was something that Dave didn’t agree to until Josh was 11. So that was one of our issues. But even with that, I didn’t go against him because that’s part of our parenting plan and that’s one of the guardianship issues. You don’t do anything medical without the other parent’s consent. As much as it irritated me, it was really important to him and we did that, whereas when Danny got married, she got those tonsils for her kids taken out straight away. Quick smart. They all have the sponsors.
Laura Jenkins (27:05): Oh, too funny. I think the parenting plan is great and I think it’s something people need to remember to do or if they don’t have one, get one done. Because as you say, if you’ve got those foundational items agreed, then everything else, the little things you can really agree whether it matters or not. And most of the time it’s not going to matter a great deal if you’ve got those big things figured out.
Daniella Rigon (27:32): And I think when they did that they sat down and said, what is really your not negotiables? What are your not negotiables? And that was the starting point.
Laura Jenkins (27:41): Yes. Yeah, fantastic. Something else that you touched on as well was bad mouthing. I know that’s come up a few times and I quite liked in your book as well, how you suggested that co-parent should say, refer to the co-parent as say, Jenny’s dad or Josh’s dad rather than my ex, which is more around acknowledging the role that they play. And I really like that if there are times when you really finding it hard to not bad mouth, you’re hex if you’re angry or something’s really pressed your buttons, are there any tips that you could offer listeners for what they should do in the moment?
Tracy Duff (28:27): Just remember that that child is half you first. Get into the mindset that’s half you and half their other parent. When you speak badly about their other parent, you are speaking badly about half of them, and they feel it and it hurts them. So if you are happy to say Josh’s dad is a piece of ex, then you’re probably less likely to say, you’re probably not going to say something like that other than my ex is a whatever. I used to think about that and think Josh’s dad is a beautiful father or I would think different thoughts and think of the relationship that he had with Josh. There are other ways of expelling that I’m not saying I was a saint and definitely Dave would’ve spoken to Danny and gone, oh my gosh, she’s doing this or whatever it is. But you can journal it, you can write it out, you can talk to someone privately, but never within earshot of your child.
(29:14): But if the more you get into practice of not speaking poorly about your child’s other parent, the easier it becomes. I still have girlfriends that do not, and this is like 24 years later, do not understand why I will not speak badly about Dave to them. I mean they knew him prior and they knew potentially that our relationship wasn’t great. But I’m like, that’s my son’s father. That’s a special sacred relationship. And I know that Dave doesn’t speak badly about me either. In fact, he would do the opposite. He would stand up for me and I stand up for him. I mean, I’m hoping that my friends have gotten to the stage where they can do that, but you won’t hear me speaking about him badly now. And regardless of what our relationship was, it’s our son. There’s no two other people that could have created our son. So that’s something to be grateful for and to focus on. So yeah, it’s definitely a very important part of our co- parenting that Josh hasn’t had to feel scared. I mean, I imagine his beautiful little face as a little child if I was screaming about his father and to think, why would I do that to him? It just hurts him. It doesn’t alleviate my pain. It might help me to vent, but there’s other ways that I can do that. And then just refocusing back on what I can control and that’s my own life.
Laura Jenkins (30:30): Such a good example to set for others. What prompted you both to write the book or how did that come about?
Daniella Rigon (30:40): I think, well two things for me, because I had experienced so much of the other end of the spectrum at school, and so I wanted to be able to do something that was going to make a difference in the lives of the children that I was with my background in wellbeing, spending so much time with these kids trying to pick up the pieces. So I thought if we could do something, we’ve got this response mentality. We’re always pulling people out of the river, but if we could go further up the river and stop them going in the first place and create some type of prevention, that was my first thing. And probably our second thing was people’s infatuation with the two of us. I mean, we have been mistaken for a gay couple for most of
Tracy Duff (31:21): Many times.
Daniella Rigon (31:22): Most of our relationship. I mean even when Josh had his operations and they were is who
Tracy Duff (31:30): Parents?
Daniella Rigon (31:31): Who are you and your partners?
Tracy Duff (31:34): It wasn’t until and is he the donor?
Daniella Rigon (31:37): Even in Josh’s when he was in year 12, because we did parent teacher interviews and everything together, Tracy and I, it really wasn’t until year 12 when we walked in with our husbands that everyone was like, oh,
Tracy Duff (31:51): There are other people in this. I also found it really difficult to explain what we did to people because it would take, I mean at the time that we wrote, it was probably 15 years in, but it would take hours to go. And then we did this and then we did that. So we got in touch with Bev a but, and she’s just an amazing self-help author and also illustrator, and she helped us to put all of the words into illustrations to make it really simple for other people to be able to implement in their own lives and light.
Daniella Rigon (32:23): We want to play some heavy, you would’ve known from the picture. Some of them are a bit quirky and a little bit funny. We wanted to add a bit of a light element. So it wasn’t, when you are in that state, the last thing you want to do is pick up some heavy reading. So we wanted to give, all of the things had worked for us. We wanted to translate them in a light way that was going to be easy for people to read.
Tracy Duff (32:43): And we knew that it worked. So it wasn’t like we, I mean we are not doctors and psychologists or anything. We are just a family that have made it work and we knew that there would be a way that this could work for other families if we could just articulate it really well. I talk a lot as you can hear, so me sitting down with someone and explaining it to them for two hours is not going to be conducive of their own time. And the book’s actually been designed to be read in 45 minutes, even if you read it slowly. And it’s designed for each family to keep one in their home. So you need to have two books. If you’re a co-parented family, there’s no point in one person trying it and not the other person and then referring to it. So it’s there as a guide for you when you do come up against those situations. Alright. What did Tracy and Danny’s family do? Well, they tried this, maybe I can try this tip. So it really was
Daniella Rigon (33:31): Very, very practical. Practical strategies that were evidence-based because we knew that they’d worked and really to make a difference in the lives of other families. That was our goal was to make a difference. And I think the best evidence is really now we’ve sort of come full circle, Josh’s 24 now as Tracy said, and he’s a very well-balanced, wonderful young man. And I feel very proud that, I think a large part of that was the way that the four of us decided to handle our family. And I always think back to Josh’s year 12 speech. All the year 12 students had to make a speech and he got up and said how lucky he was to have parents that had made the choices that they made and that how thankful he was that he had two stepparents that had made a choice to love him when they didn’t have to. And that is what always goes was my mind.
Tracy Duff (34:20): She was crying for a long time. That was beautiful.
Laura Jenkins (34:24): That’s so lovely.
Daniella Rigon (34:24): And it’s those moments. And again, at that event, the moms walked the boys in or the moms went. So I’d gone in and I just went and sat at the table because it was a very special moment for Tracy and Josh. And before it started, Josh came running through the hall, where are you? We’re waiting for you to walk in. And I said, no, no, no, this is for you and your mom. And he said, oh my gosh, stop. You are my mom. Get up. You need to walk in with us. And so when I went back to Trace and I said, trace was waiting with open arms and I said, is this okay? What are you talking about? Get on his other arm. And so it’s those moments that I thank God that we made a decision to do what was best for him because I can now see at the other end of things, him being a young man that it was all worth it. Every time I bit my tongue,
every argument that trace and I had everything that we had to push down to push through was worth every single second to see how he’s turned out.
Laura Jenkins (35:22): So inspiring. I just love it. I could honestly chat to you both all afternoon, but we are just about at time here. Just before we wrap up, Danny, I understand you’ve written another book, is that right? You want to talk briefly about that?
Daniella Rigon (35:42): Yes, I have, it’s actually part of a rollout program with the education system that supports young children that have been abused and as part of my, do a lot of work in the trauma space. And so I’ve got an organization called Black Butterfly Education and I do some work going into schools and educating teachers how to work with children who have been trauma affected. So the website’s www black butterfly education.com au. So if you want to head over there, and I’ve developed a trauma model that’s currently being taught at university to train young teachers to help support our trauma affected students. So it links very nicely with our co-parenting book as well.
Tracy Duff (36:22): I use it at work too. I use all of the principles with my team at work. Okay. It’s very, very practical and I will spook about this for Danny for the rest of my days. It’s amazing. And kids that have been traumatized, particularly in these situations need different care. They need a different approach, not just from teachers but also from all of us as we parent them and just understanding what they’ve been through for us, we go through divorce and we go through separation, but these children go through it for the rest of their lives because they’re going to be part of a blended family, hopefully a nicely blended one for then their children
Daniella Rigon (37:00): As Yes. So the understanding that I think with everything, wellbeing is paramount to anything. And with schoolwork, you can’t learn if you don’t have good positive wellbeing. And I think that goes across even into the workspace. Unless you have good wellbeing, nothing else, it doesn’t matter what strategies, anything you put in place won’t work. So just really prioritizing individual wellbeing
Laura Jenkins (37:24): Fundamentals. Definitely. And where can people go to get a copy?
Tracy Duff (37:28): They can jump onto Booktopia is selling co-parenting. You can also contact us on our Facebook and I’m happy to facilitate sending you a copy of the book. If you are going to order one, please order two. Do this together, do this for your family, do this for your child, but also do it for yourself. It’s something that will help you to find peace. We also have a community that we support on Facebook of about 52,000 people from around the world. We share a lot of tips on there as well. So even if you just want to come and find our little bit more about us, you can do that on Facebook slash co-parenting crew.
Laura Jenkins (38:00): Wonderful. Well thank you again so much for your time.
Laura Jenkins (38:04): Thanks for listening to In The Blend podcast. The show notes for this episode are available @intheblend.com au. And if you like what you heard, be sure to subscribe and please rate and review in your podcasting app. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.