My name is Mindy Werder, and as you may have already seen, I am a new attorney with Lynn Jackson. I have been practicing for almost nine years, and I have handled a gamut of family law issues in that time. Because of that oftentimes tumultuous tenure, I offer three words of advice taken from the great philosopher, Vanilla Ice: stop, collaborate, and listen. Let’s break it down.
Divorce and custody issues are emotional. They involve the deepest parts of the human experience: love and children. And while there is no fault in feeling passionately about either or both, emotions cause unintended hurt, reckless words, and atypical reactions. When the rude email comes, when the phone dings with that tasteless text, or when the idea for a perfect low blow social media post arises, take a breath. Take a minute, an hour, or even longer. Respond with thought, if a response is necessary. The low road comes back to bite us in the end, and there is plenty of room on the high road. In the immortal words of Scott Hoy, made famous by Jimmy Fallon, “please stop”.
According to Google, the definition of collaborate is to “work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something.” See generally Google, self-explanatory, available at google.com (in case you live under a rock). Whether you and your significant other have children, a business, wealth, or sometimes debt, you have created something together. And while we are here to step in if working jointly is no longer possible, feelings and money can be saved if you just give collaboration the old college try. As parents, we often forget the miracle that exists in our children. They are tiny creations. And these tiny creations benefit most when we as parents do everything in our power to work together. This will sometimes take time – wounds must oftentimes be healed and better methods of communication must be learned. But collaboration was worth it the first time, and effective collaboration will always be worth it in the future.
Have you ever had someone truly hear what you were trying to say? Did you feel the empowerment that came from another person truly listening? It is a wonderful feeling to be heard. A lot of frustration can diminish to nothing when someone takes the time to listen. You can also learn a lot about someone else by simply listening. Listening can lead to revelations about another person, whether those revelations cause you to stay or to go. But taking the time and putting forth the effort to listen costs very little, and extraordinarily fruitful benefits could emerge.
The 2020s may not be ready for a re-emergence of parachute pants or any of the 90’s dance moves. We could, however, heed this dated advice from VIP Vanilla Ice: stop, collaborate, and listen.