Coparent Academy Podcast

#37 - Depressed Dad?

December 05, 2022 Linda VanValkenburg and Ron Gore
#37 - Depressed Dad?
Coparent Academy Podcast
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Coparent Academy Podcast
#37 - Depressed Dad?
Dec 05, 2022
Linda VanValkenburg and Ron Gore

A mom tries to decide how to deal with her ex whom she thinks is depressed but may also be trying to manipulate her to drop child support.

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Show Notes Transcript

A mom tries to decide how to deal with her ex whom she thinks is depressed but may also be trying to manipulate her to drop child support.

 Visit to see all available courses and discounted course bundles. 

Thanks for listening!  If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please email us at

If you enjoyed this episode, please rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher. or wherever you listen.

Ron Gore  00:00
This next one is kind of complicated. I feel like there's a lot going on in the subtext of this one. And the title of this Reddit post is child's dad is depressed. 

Ron Gore  00:10
She says: "The father of my child confided that he's depressed. The thing is, we're not together and a lot has transpired over the past year in his life. On one note, I do want to empathize with him. But it conflicts with my emotions, and also the well being of our child. He strongly believes that child support will hurt him. But I personally don't wish to communicate with him because he's constantly yelling, and only chooses to put himself first. I don't wish to question his mental health, because I believe it's real. But also based on my past experience, he could be playing a card like that to have me not continue with child support proceedings. He wants to work through our issues and be a family and I've told him, we can see how we feel after a child support and custody is settled," 

Ron Gore  00:51
Aka, that's not happening. 

Linda VanValkenburg  00:54

Ron Gore  00:54
"It should not be an issue since we both intend to put her child first. But then he cries and I feel horrible. My dad, who is a retired judge, believes he is also playing games, but traditionally they've never seen eye to eye. Would I be awful to insist on settling custody and child support while he does therapy, or better yet, sever communication with the exception of our attorneys."

Ron Gore  01:16
That post is all over the place.

Linda VanValkenburg  01:20
I'm glad you thought so too. I was like, oh, wait a minute. Oh, no, wait a minute.

Ron Gore  01:24
There's so much there in different directions. Clearly, this mom wants nothing to do with the dad. 

Linda VanValkenburg  01:32
Right. Sounds like maybe she's giving him mixed messages?

Ron Gore  01:37
Well, if her communication about how she feels to him is similar to how she wrote it in the post, then I think there has to be some mixed messages. Or at least at least some false trails where he thinks he can see some road to walk down when it's not there. Okay, so the short answer is get child support and custody settled. 

Ron Gore  02:02
Right. With no promises of tomorrow after that writing to be together. Yes. 

Ron Gore  02:09
Right. And you just you get that resolved, because that will take a lot of the uncertainty out and loss times conflict is premised on uncertainty and unsettled expectations.

Linda VanValkenburg  02:20
And maybe even his depression in some ways. It's, you know, divorces a grief process, as we've talked about many times, and you can't really start to grieve if you're still holding out hope that things can get back together. So in a weird sort of way, it could be helpful for him if it's done correctly. 

Ron Gore  02:44
Right. And he really may be very manipulative in this because it sounds like I mean, it's hard to tell I'm just being a jerk about this, guess. It's hard to tell. I mean, if you're having this conversation about child support, and then he starts crying..

Linda VanValkenburg  03:01
That particular issue, yes, yeah. If you if he was crying, because he misses her and their family, that's one thing. But if you really pull out the tears, just when we're talking child support. And that was an interesting line, he strongly believes that tall support will hurt him, okay, hurt his pocketbook or hurt him how?

Ron Gore  03:27
Yeah, I'm assuming hurt his pocketbook. And you know, if he is depressed, and maybe it's affecting his work, she said that a lot has transpired over the past year in his life. So maybe he's out of work, maybe they're imputing income to him, you know, maybe he doesn't have the money, maybe he's afraid of going to jail, if he doesn't pay. If her dad's a retired judge I imagine he's getting the what for a little bit on this. So my thought is, it never helps anyone to leave things in limbo. That's the worst place for both of these people to be.

Linda VanValkenburg  04:09
Emotionally, financially every other way.

Ron Gore  04:11
Right. And on both sides of it, whether you have the upper hand or not. So she's she's taking on more, let's say that she's approaching this in a really well natured way that she's, you know, not being duplicitous in any way in how she's describing this, that she's not intending to give him mixed signals. She's taking on a responsibility that she shouldn't have to have and trying to be the arbiter of whether or not he should pay child support or whether to give in to his requests or whether to even consider to get back with him. She should have the ability and the freedom to say "No, it's not my job right now. We're gonna get this order entered. We're both going to follow the orders that the court puts in place. That's going to give us both some stability we can get some distance from the emotional impact of the separation. And then we can reassess how we both feel and where we both are down the road."

Linda VanValkenburg  05:07
Well, and it will bode well for the future for their communication as well that they do it in a businesslike way that that's the business of the marriage and former relationship.

Ron Gore  05:20
That last one is so interesting that last sentence was, would I be awful to insist on selling custody and child support while he does therapy? Or better yet sever communications with the exception of our attorneys, or better yet? I mean, so she clearly has no interest in having communication with him. And if that's the way she feels, if in her mind, that's "better yet," then yeah, maybe do that give him a chance to get himself stabilized

Linda VanValkenburg  05:47
that she's not in charge of him getting therapy? 

Ron Gore  05:50

Linda VanValkenburg  05:51
And unless the court has ordered a psych eval if his depression, and yet has he been hospitalized, has he gotten to suicide, as you know, there, there might be some extenuating factors there that we don't know about that he needs some assessment and needs to be seen, perhaps for medication or therapy, and that would affect whether or not like she said, yeah, the well being of the child. And so that might be a component of it that either has or has not been done at this point.

Ron Gore  06:26
Yeah. And there's the undercurrent of abuse in here, too. I'm sure you picked up on all the things I picked up on 

Linda VanValkenburg  06:32
The constantly yelling

Ron Gore  06:33
Constantly yelling, and switching to crying and making her feel bad, and then wanting to get back together. And

Linda VanValkenburg  06:38
It's probably why the retired judge thinks manipulating is not his first rodeo,

Ron Gore  06:44
There's the the cycle of violence is pretty well writ through this thing.

Linda VanValkenburg  06:46
And it's another thing that I see frequently, like she says, I do want to empathize with him. Frequently, the ex spouses or partners of people who do have mental health issues, will find themselves continuing to be pulled into a caretaking role, sometimes even years after the divorce is final. So it's especially prevalent during this particular separation time.

Ron Gore  07:24
So what would you say to this lady?

Linda VanValkenburg  07:29
I would pull back on being his caretaker, be kind in any of your correspondence and so forth, but make it a business like transaction for now. Let recommend that he get back in to see that person. But unless you're going to take it to the extent of the court, knowing where he does stay in, psychologically, at the moment, and the visitation being built around that, then just distance herself in terms of you know, don't be giving him so much empathy that he thinks you still want to be there when you clearly don't. And so, you know, issues of child support, custody, anything else need to be settled between the attorneys, I think she needs to step back from that.

Ron Gore  08:29
Yeah. And I guess the last thing that I would, if she were my client, what I would tell her is, you're putting yourself in the role of being the manager of this extended family unit now with separated parent and child. And that means that you are going to be ultimately held to account for how you managed that organization. And so you can't just, it's not, it's not usually helpful to just sever communications with exception the attorneys unless there's actual abuse. And then you might have a protective order and PC in place. But if she's going to be in charge, then she needs like you said to be professional, courteous, communicative, you know, all of the ways that we talk about and Coparent Academy, making sure that she upholds the the types of principles that we talk about use the communication protocols that we discuss, because that way she can do well the business of managing this separated family unit.

Linda VanValkenburg  09:30
But not having to manage his mental health issues.

Ron Gore  09:33
Right. So it's, it's like working, it's like being in charge of an organization. You're not going to the person's home to make sure they took their medication to make sure they wash their clothes. But when they come into the workplace, then you make sure that things are adequately done and you've got your HR protocols in place, and she basically needs to do the same thing.

Linda VanValkenburg  09:55
She's probably been managing all that for him for a long time.