17: Danica Joan on Creating the Future by Restoring Families
That’s kind of been my thing is love yourself, selfishly. Because you really cannot love. You can’t give what you don’t have. – Danica Joan
Meet Danica Joan
Danica Joan joins us to share her commitment to restoring families experiencing high conflict custody matters. As a family advocate of over 20 years, Danica created the non-profit, Kids Need Both, Inc as a way of educating parents and professionals on how to create positive change in high conflict families that gives the children a whole new future. It has been through her own heartache that she found her voice as a family advocate and now makes it her life mission to help others. Life’s struggles that start may be your opportunity to step into your life’s calling. With over 20 years’ experience as an educator, Danica provides families with workable solutions to their custody conflicts. She is a Certified Family Mediator with Florida Supreme Court, Guardian Ad Litem, the author for Florida’s Family Stabilization Parent Education curriculum, and a personal custody coach.
Tell the audience a little bit about your story.
My friend, Donna Eller, introduced us, and she says this could be something that would be a great place to connect. And it’s been a really great opportunity to be able to, to be a contributing author in this book, because it’s not, even though I knew my story, I had the basis of my story. It was actually through the writing process that I discovered so many things I didn’t see before. It 20 years ago was when I kind of, my journey ended up choosing its course in working with families going through high conflict custody situations because that was where my journey started. I was going through, and I ended up in a marriage that was not healthy. It was very, it was dysfunctional, and there were children involved. So, it wasn’t just the decisions I made was not just for me, but it was also for my children. And yet I chose to in the marriage, thinking it would go one way and it didn’t. And I realized I found myself in a very high conflict custody situation. So, you know, just going through survival and trying to make the most of the situation. I realized, well, wait a minute. This is not a calling I asked for, but it was thrust upon me to help other families, other parents going through high conflict custody situations. So, over the course of the years, I created a nonprofit called kids need both. And its mission is to educate those dealing with high conflict families, not just the parents themselves. But I also found in my journey that the professionals were not very well equipped to deal effectively deal with these high conflict families. So that’s what I do today is I work with, I’m a mediator. I’m an author of the family stabilization curriculum. And I coach families who are going through a divorce.
I love what you guys are and what you’re doing with your nonprofit. I want you to be able to share a little bit more about that.
I was talking to a friend of mine, one of the founders of a divorce professionals organization nationwide. She and I were sharing, she says, you know, the legal field doesn’t get a bad reputation for no reason, as far as you know, the legal process being dragged out, and it costs people 10s of 1000s of dollars and all that. I’ve got to believe that there are good people in all of those fields, but there’s a lot of resignation in that situation. So, you know, the thing is, is divorce has three ways to go, it can go mediation centered, it could go like collaborative, or it could go litigated. Ultimately, mediation is where the most harmonious wants, collaborative is the next stage, and litigated if somehow there can be an establishment of trying to filter out those families, So we’re not pushing everybody into the presumed litigated direction. It would make a big difference for families. That’s what I do with my team, with kids need both is to create options for families and actually empower the parents because the parents need to be in the driver’s seat of their custody situation. And not just expect that just because you’re an attorney that you’re going to be the one to take care of everything. And understanding that parents are sometimes, they’re in a very emotional, they’re in survival mode, they’re concerned about the roof over their head, being able to have enough money to pay to support themselves plus the children. There’s just a lot of worries. And that’s why we get attorneys to take care of those things. But we’ve got to remember that we’re in we are the ones in charge, and it’s our responsibility to, to empower ourselves, maybe even you know, to find a divorce coach that helps us to think more grounded Lee and, you know so that we can go in there and make the right decision. A lot of times, we go into mediation completely unprepared. And we’re making decisions for our six-month-old child or a preschool child that will last 18 years. And I guarantee that that agreement, that parenting plan agreement that was okay, when the child was 18 months old, does not work when they’re 18 years.
How do you support your families, and how does your nonprofit support your families?
My team has created a platform community. It’s a subscription-based platform community; this has been in the works for a while because we’ve already been doing conferences every few years, bringing experts in, in a conference structure. And, of course, with the pandemic, it shifted to an online conference. And then we discovered something; we discovered that, first of all, we had access to way more families actually globally, by shifting it to an online conference. So, then we said, okay, what’s next? We created this platform community called hope for families. And it still has a lot of blog content and experts. Still, it also has access to a director of professionals that we’ve vetted and said, you know, these are the people we would recommend if you need any of their services. What’s really special, probably the big flagship, is the coach led groups. So, like, a might be a six-week group where the topic might be, you know, parenting plans or finances or whatever topic that our coaches are an expert in, we have them lead, like a, like a curriculum-based six-week group, and you can join that. And then, when your six weeks are up, you might want to try a different one. And it’s the design to make an interactive kind of conversation so that you can discover things together. And versus I kind of, I correlate it to, like, the church structure. When you sit down for your worship service, it’s a passive activity of being, you know, taught to, and it’s wonderful; you have some great insights. But then it’s in those small groups, the Sunday school classes and stuff like that, that you develop relationships, and you actually, you know, transform your way of thinking, and you become more empowered. So that’s what we’ve got going, you know, to help families along with, of course, our services that the professionals, the practitioners have available, maybe like the course of their own, maybe a self-directed course, or just utilizing them, as you know, a mediator or a counselor, you know, that kind of thing.
Can you share one of the nuggets of wisdom that you included with your story for anybody that may be really connecting with your journey and want to maybe learn something from you?
In the beginning, as I said, I knew my story very well; I thought I did. Before I started discovering myself, I realized that my ex wasn’t really the bad guy that thrust me into this mission. It was so easy to see that because it was right out there. However, over time, I realized what had me even connected into that kind of dynamic because of my lack of loving myself and selfishly. That’s been my thing is love yourself, selfishly. Because you really cannot love. You can’t give what you don’t have.
What advice would you give to somebody in the audience right now, who may be struggling with a high conflict divorce, or maybe an upcoming divorce that they feel may be high conflict?
Well, I would say the first thing you need to do before you hire an attorney before anything is finding a trusted coach. A coach will help. And I know this to be true because I have coached many people, they come back to me, and they said, Wow, everything, I started with lots of fear and trepidation. And I got through it with everything I wanted. Not, you didn’t get everything. But you got it to end the way you wanted it to end, which was harmonious. And through having a coach that can actually navigate and guide you. In the directions. It’s like having a trusted friend right next to your side.
Somebody looking for a divorce coach, like, how would they find that type of person to connect with? Or should they connect with you?
They certainly could connect with me because on the platform, that’s one of the things that we’re really, really trying to connect people with is get yourself a coach. People have no idea how valuable it really is to have that before they spend tons and tons of money that they don’t have anyplace else.
What is a book right now that is on your bedside table?
Love Lessons: Signs of a True Soulmate by Jamie Hirsch
If you can be any superhero, which one would you choose to be?
Wonder Women. She’s like, powerful, and she’s sexy.
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