The Email

Who waits until late on a Friday to send out really not great news?

Well, a  lot of people do. After working in the news business for decades, I’ve realized that’s actually when most bad news is typically delivered. Press releases often go out right after the closing of the typical Friday business day (or whatever day it might be). It’s an easy out. If there is one. And it happens so that none of the decision makers can be contacted for comment until Monday and it helps delay having to deal with any fallout. Unless one is relentless in pursuing good sources, has an ‘in’ with those decision makers or you track down someone who’s been affected by the decisions and usually they’re searching for you, wanting to talk, you’re hard pressed to get your story.

I’m not good at waiting until Monday with questions I have about bad decisions made on a Friday. When I have questions, I try to go to the source in any situation as best I can and get answers. Not to be a pain, or create conflict. But to simply get answers.

I hung up the phone after talking with the Cowboy here a couple of weeks ago now. And I called our attorney for his thoughts …

“I don’t know. I really have never seen anything like this. I’m shocked by his decision,” he said. Then he added, “What don’t I know? What sort of history might you have with this judge that I’m not aware of?” he said.

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I caught up with a girlfriend early yesterday to go for a ride. She was off the hook to go out and help cut silage for the day – they had some unexpected help. I had enough work in front of me to last a 12 hour day. But I got a ‘please please please please please’ message from her. I couldn’t pass it up. The day was beautiful. Perfect, actually. We all know days like this are numbered as we head toward another South Dakota winter where the wicked winter winds that blow across the prairie make long rides relatively unbearable.

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Barn kitty out soaking up the morning sun

Plus, time in the saddle is great to clear your head.

We also hadn’t had a chance to catch up in weeks. She was dying to know what was in the email I last wrote about. She was frustrated I hadn’t followed up yet with another post on what had happened.

“It’s best, while everything is still ongoing, to not say much of anything,” I told her.

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It’s why I haven’t written much now for over a year. It’s what our attorney feels is best. He’s probably right.

My problem with that is, and I said this to her … the situation we’re in and that so many others are as well, has just about everyone afraid to talk. If you do, too much is at stake. You don’t ever want to say anything that might piss off a judge who could possibly be ruling on your case. Or any of their buddies on the bench. Because they do talk. They do keep an eye on what you are doing. And they do in turn, have absolute power to change the entire course of your life and on top of that, make you pay. Literally. In so many ways. Regardless of what actual facts in the case may be and the law.

Unless someone knows. Or digs. Or isn’t afraid to pursue what is lawful and based on fact. Or share their story. More people need to share their stories, and it is happening across the country. Because it’s time.

In the meantime, we are quite certain the fact we’ve (more the Cowboy than me) been outspoken advocates for shared parenting in South Dakota and across the nation, has in fact, affected the rulings in our own shared parenting case.

“There’s just no other logical explanation,” our attorney said, shaking his head and looking hard at us in a recent meeting to follow up on ‘the email.’ A shared parenting proponent himself, he felt absolutely terrible leaving things where they were at. He had even helped draft what this year became the new law on Shared Parenting in South Dakota and felt our case was a slam dunk if there ever was one. It is most likely one of the last meetings we’ll have with our attorney. This one …

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O-Mok-See

Our computers most often anymore, get set aside over any and all weekends. Especially weekends we are blessed to have all the kids around.

So the email… the email that came in just as the workday ended last Friday that stunned us both… we agreed to forget about the best we could for the weekend and enjoy our time together. And we’re glad that we did because it may have been the last warm, beautiful weekend we’ll see for quite some time.

There was little that could be done to change the situation anyway. At that point. And, we should have expected nothing less than the news we received, given our previous experience with the South Dakota family court system.

So before I get to discussing what was in the email .. this was from Sunday night. I started journaling again right before the power went out.

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Sunday has been a long day but a wonderful one at that – it was the first Sunday School session of fall, the whole family took part in our first O-Mok-See which lasted all afternoon… honestly, the first time I even heard the word was that afternoon when we were there. It’s different than what the kids are used to doing as well as the horses. So it was good for us.

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The Cowboy and the boys left early to get to their first fall flag-football practice (which they are totally stoked about), we all got home later than we would have liked on a school night and still had to put the horses and tack away, grab a shower, a bite to eat and get to work.

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The girls picked up their homework and went out to my office – the newness and privacy of it all has them excited and wanting to work out there. Needing somewhere quiet and with the Cowboy and the boys still not home, I stayed inside, sat down at the table, and started to catch up on emails, interviews yet to be logged and think through the articles due Monday morning at the paper.

The email, I still haven’t looked at it. But I already know what it says. We’re pondering the various ways we might folo-up this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t get along with the other parent? On Shared Parenting…

Chances are you’ve been fighting for awhile and still sharing parenting duties while at home, and still married or ‘together’.

Chances are at some point during your school age years you were assigned a group project with a partner you didn’t like, didn’t hang out with, didn’t care to work with, but you went to school, played nice, got the job done and most likely your grade wasn’t too bad. And then maybe .. just maybe you started to say hello when you’d pass in the hallway and perhaps even become friends at some point.

Chances are, you don’t get along well with someone at work but you both still go in and get the job done everyday.

Chances are as you’ve gotten older, you’ve also gotten wiser. We can only hope. Time has healed old wounds over something you can now hardly recall and you’ve realized there are bigger things in life to worry about than harboring anger over old, insignificant issues.

Chances are, if you can’t figure out a way to get along with someone, you can figure a way around it and still do it well. That is, if you care to try, knowing the reason you’re trying is what’s best for everyone involved.

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I’m rather disgusted and quite frankly tired of hearing adults that I want to think are relatively level headed and well educated, say when it comes to shared parenting, that if the parents can’t get along (this is at the time of divorce – mind you – when custody and placement decisions are being made and emotions are often most high) then shared parenting isn’t possible. Shared parenting meaning maximum time with both parents if not 50/50. Whatever would be in the best interest of the child. And just about every social science study over the past 20 years shows as equal time as possible with both parents is in the best interest of the child, assuming both parents are fit parents.

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I’m not quite sure I get it, and this may just me, because I really don’t see a reason for ongoing conflict. Or despising anyone. Especially when it comes to family situations. If there’s a problem, define and fix it. Get over it. Grow from it. Deal with it. Like an adult. And keep your kids out of it when it comes to what you and your ex still have to work out. While it may be good for kids to see parents sorting through a heated discussion, a debate or a disagreement in a healthy way so they learn emotional intelligence skills as they grow, they don’t need to be put in the middle of your own issues with your own bruised ego, see that you can’t get over being ‘wronged’ or whatever the issue may be.

A question posed by KELO television to its viewers after airing a piece on shared parenting and a bill moving through the South Dakota state legislature right now:

“There is a major push in Pierre this year to pass a law for shared parenting, but can this method of custody work in this state?”

Sincerely, you have to be kidding me. Are parents in South Dakota that unlike parents in other states where this works? Genuine shared parenting – where it’s done, accepted and quite honestly, now promoted – is overall shown to decrease conflict over time and is shown to be better for kids. In any state. This doesn’t somehow stop at the state line of any given state. Unless…  are parents in South Dakota just that much more hard headed and with conviction they don’t want it to work? This conviction not limited to just parents? The comments coming from so called ‘family court’ officials seem unbelievably ignorant to me if you’ve had any conversations or done any research outside the four walls of your respective office. Research done on this topic and covering many families is broad based and not limited to any one state. There seems a deliberate attempt in South Dakota to maintain a system that is alienating of fit, capable and willing parents – most often men but also women. And detrimental to children.

This is nowhere near “in the best interest of any child.”

Bauserman in 2002 and Melli and Brown in 2008 found that inter­parental conflict decreases over time in equal or shared parenting arrangements and increases in sole physical custody arrangements; interparental cooperation increases over time in shared custody arrangements and decreases in sole physical custody arrangements.”

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There is no reason shared parenting can’t work. It does work. In many states. In many places. In many homes. It can work and it does work should two good people choose. Even if one doesn’t choose, without good cause, why should those parents be the one then awarded primary placement? Parents, get over yourself and try. Be open to it. If it doesn’t work.. ?

Worst case scenario: you find yourself in the same situation you’re already in, your kids aren’t doing well and you’re back with family court officials asking for a change in physical placement. Right now this already happens due to any number of reasons – parental alienation, the non-custodial parent fighting for more time. Meantime your kids are confused, not feeling great about their situation in either home and wishing things were different.

Best case scenario: you both, as parents of your children, recognize your kids need something different for them to grow, heal and feel they are getting the best of both of you. And so you work it out. With or without the help of an attorney. It’s civil. It’s cheaper. You all come out better in this situation. You earn trust. Your kids are amazed and find newfound respect for you. And you both get to look in the mirror everyday and feel damn good about the situation you’ve created for your children. That is .. if you genuinely love your children and truly want what is best for them.

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Include the other parent. Allow your children to love their other parent. Share information about school, medical decisions, pictures, the other half of who your child is with the other parent so your children, those beautiful little lives the two of you brought into this world TOGETHER, can somehow still feel whole in a situation you’ve created for them living now, apart. Work together.

It is what’s best.

Chances are … you can make it work. You – and the myriad of family court officials worried more about their matching federal funds for child support shrinking than what is truly in the best interest of the child – just have to be willing to try.

If you’re not, say what you want about anyone else in this situation. But what does that say about you.