If you have been reading my ramblings and writing for awhile, or following me on Facebook, you might know I have three children. They are 4, 2 and 1. And like the experience of so many parents I speak to, my children fill me with joy and frustration, excitement and happiness and my heart could burst with the love I feel for them.
Life, as you can imagine, is pretty full with three small people, particularly when combined with lawyering. And life is a constant juggle between priorities. And it is fun, mostly. And I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Save for witching hour, I will happily outsource witching hour!
In the last 12 months, there have been some pretty significant changes for my family: our third child was born; my husband stopped working FIFO; my husband started his adult-apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic (a new field for him and I have never seen the man so happy!); and I returned to work in my practice as a family and divorce lawyer when our baby was 6 weeks old.
In that 12-month period, Luke and I have learned how to live together full-time – having previously always been a FIFO couple (and I will admit it has not always been easy), we rolled through the many highs and lows of the newborn phase and all that brings, and here we are.
So.. again, why am I telling you this?
Over the last six months, we realized that one of our children was not speaking at the same level their age group suggests is the milestone. It was apparent to us for awhile but we figured that if we waited a few weeks then that little internal switch where all the words just make sense and come together would “click on” and conversation would flow (I am a family lawyer, not a speech pathologist)… kind of the “hope” method – where you don’t really change anything, but hope the situation changes by the passage of time.
I wallowed a little. I’ll admit it. And I fretted.
I gave myself 12 unproductive minutes (okay.. probably more than that) to blame myself and feel guilt about whether it was my fault, whether I had been distracted by pregnancy, our other child, the new baby, my practice.. And then I decided it was time to do something other than wallow.
So I started looking for answers.
Who did I talk to?
- Google – I googled. I google a lot. About everything. But there is so much information that I felt overwhelmed and of the stuff I did read, so much was generic and not specific to our circumstances. Not specific to my little human who needed some help.
- The childcare staff – they were supportive and offered their views and suggestions and helped us develop a plan, at least for the time our child was in childcare. They also pointed out that their qualifications were not in the field of speech therapy.
- and then I googled some more.. still overwhelmed by generic, non-specific-to-our-family stuff.
- My close friends & family (obviously!) – Some who are teachers and therefore, I assume, know “stuff”, and some who are parents. I asked them if their children had experienced developmental delays, and how they dealt with those delays; I asked them whether they thought I should worry, the offered their views; I asked them if they could recommend anyone to speak to – they did. They recommended I consult a speech pathologist.
- My doctor – my wonderful, supportive, kind and caring doctor – she supported me, told me not to catastrophise the situation, and suggested a speech pathologist.
So – on the recommendation by a friend, I found a speech pathologist. I found her on good old facebook, sent her a message to ask her to contact me and we made an appointment.
And you know what? She gave us advice and information and supported us and that was specific to our child. We implemented some stuff and improvements are ongoing… progress is being made.
It is wonderful, and reassuring to know that we took that step to get advice from someone who is qualified to provide us with the advice that is specifically designed for our problem.
So why am I telling you this?
Because I understand that no matter how clever I am, and no matter how many degrees I might have (I did do a few subjects about children in my psychology degree and a large portion of families I work with have children)– I know I am not qualified to diagnose and fix speech developmental delays in children; just as I am not qualified to diagnose and treat medical ailments (no matter how closely the symptoms match a google-based description).
Likewise, when you first separate, you will tell your close friends and family, and you will ask Google for help, and you will receive lots of advice and support from well-meaning, kind, caring and clever people.
Some of those people may even have experienced divorce themselves and can empathize greatly with your situation.. but likely, they will not be family lawyers themselves and therefore the advice they can offer will be relevant, really, only to their circumstances at the time they received it.. which may not be suitable to your life and your family. And given you are dealing with the two most important things we can have in life – family and property, it’s better to make sure the answers you get match your circumstances.
And so, I really encourage you to get those answers from someone who is very experienced in family law and will take the time to listen to your story and understand your unique circumstances before providing advice that is tailored to your needs. Find the person who is right for you and is focussed on helping you achieve an amicable and respectful outcome in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Megan Sweetlove is a divorce lawyer and the owner of Sweetlove Family Law. Based in Crafers in the Adelaide Hills and also with consulting rooms just outside Adelaide CBD, Megan has worked with families who are experiencing separation and divorce for the past 10 years and is committed to assisting her clients find respectful outcomes to their separation, away from the Court process and with a focus on having a healthy future.
If you or someone you know needs assistance during divorce you can organise a complimentary 20 minute phone appointment with Megan here.
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