In this epsiode, host Jaime Davis interviews author Kimberly Ewertz about her first book Family Redefined: Childhood Reflections on the Impact of Divorce which is a collection of testimonies by adult children of divorce. In 1990, after twelve years of marriage, Kimberly filed for divorce propelling her and her then ten year old son into a journey of irrevocable change. That journey was the impetus for Family Redefined.
Note: Our Podcast, “A Year and a Day: Divorce Without Destruction”, was created to be heard, but we provide text transcripts to make this information accessible to everyone. All transcripts on our website are created using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and could contain errors.
Jaime Davis: Welcome to Episode 1 of Season 5 of “A Year and a Day.” I’m your host, Jamie Davis.
Today, I’ll be speaking with author Kimberly Ewertz. After 12 years of marriage in 1990, Kimberly filed for divorce, propelling her and her then 10 year old son into a journey of irrevocable change. That journey is the impetus for her first book, Family Redefined: Childhood Reflections on the Impact of Divorce, which is a collection of testimonies by adult children of divorce. Ms. Ewertz currently resides in Gil, California with her husband, Steven and her two dogs, Murphy and Charlie.
Hi, Kimberly, thank you for joining me today.
Kimberly Ewertz: Well, thank you Jamie, for having me on your show. I really appreciate this opportunity.
Jaime Davis: So I am really excited to talk to you about your book today. Tell our listeners about your book.
Kimberly Ewertz: Yes. Um, Family Redefined is my first book, but I’ve been writing for over 30 years for magazines and newspapers. But taking on a book was a big challenge. But I always knew I wanted to put a resource out for parents and children of divorce. I just didn’t know what that resource was gonna be. And then I finally figured out my strengths lie in interviewing people and letting them tell me their story. And so it made sense that that’s what I would do. So I started reaching out and finding people who were adult children of divorce that wanted to share their stories, and I was amazed at the reception I received and how open they were. So the book is their stories. It’s, um, 10 chapters. Each chapter is an individual’s testimony of what it was like from the time they found out either about their parents’ separation or their divorce.
And then it goes all the way through their life up until the time I was interviewing them. So it’s kind of gives you, um, gives the reader a realization of how the divorce impacts their lives into adulthood and beyond. So, um, and intermixed in each chapter, I also interviewed, marriage and family professionals, therapists and counselors. So that that information that they provided me about the whole divorce process, how it affects children, how it affects their law could be included in each chapter so that the parents that are reading this book can understand what their child is going through, because I don’t think we realize that. I am divorced myself. So I know I didn’t have the insight into what my child was going through, even though I thought I did, but we really don’t. So I feel that their contribution to this book is enormously beneficial for the parents reading.
Jaime Davis: Absolutely. I will say that as a divorce lawyer, I feel found the perspective of your book to be very interesting. It was so nice to be able to hear the story told from the child’s perspective, um, and how the divorce impacted them, you know, into their adulthood. Um, you know, it’s a very unique perspective that we often don’t get to see.
I also really liked how you wove the comments from the various therapists and marriage counselors into the text of the book. Um, I thought that was really great to see those two things together.
Kimberly Ewertz: Yes, I felt that was beneficial, you know, to show, um, as the person is, is their story is unfolding, and to intersperse that with, you know, why that child might have been acting that way or feeling that way from the professional point of view so that the parent reading that chapter can understand, oh my God, that’s why, you know, so, and so has been acting so distant and, and so angry. So it’s, yeah, it’s like, you know, a light bulb goes on, you get that, that, ‘oh, aha’ moment. Like I understand now and understanding during a time when you’re so really fraught with, you know, emotions yourself as a parent and, and someone going through, you know, the disillusion of, of marriage. I hope it’s, you know, as helpful as I believe it is.
Jaime Davis: Absolutely. No, I, I think it’s great. Um, you know, to have those tips from the professionals as you’re reading these very moving chapters, um, I, I think is very helpful and very powerful. What would you say makes your book different from other books that deal with the subject of divorce?
Kimberly Ewertz: Well, again, it’s the perspective of the child. It’s letting them tell their side of the story because there are so in my research of trying to find what is out there and what maybe missing, I never found anything except for one other book that was published in 2000, um, and it was called “Voices of the Children of Divorce.” It wasn’t the full story of each child. It was just individual comments about a certain subject, you know, about abandonment or a, um, the typical things that, you know, children go through with divorce. It didn’t give you the full story of what that, that divorce did to them as they were growing up. And I thought that’s what was missing. That’s what led me on my journey to try to find people who wanted to share what that experience was like for other people to learn from that
Jaime Davis: How much research went into completing the book?
Kimberly Ewertz: From the, um, the day of my very first interview. And it’s actually the first chapter of is entitled Lisa. All the names are fictional, cuz everyone is, you know, respected their, privacy, and kept them anonymous. So, um, Lisa is the very first chapter cuz she was my very first interview now is in August of 2015 and five years later, August of 2020, I submitted my manuscript, complete manuscript to my publisher, Little CRE Press. So it was a five year journey.
Jaime Davis: Wow.
Kimberly Ewertz: And I didn’t realize it until, you know, I submitted it and sent it off. And then I went back through all my notes and my many folders and I looked at the first interview and I’m like, oh my God, that was five years ago.
Jaime Davis: Wow. That’s great. How did you determine who you would interview for the book?
Kimberly Ewertz: Well, as a reporter, I have kind of, you know, a pulse of the community. So just through word of mouth, you know, anybody that I met or talked to, um, I would explain what my project was, how passionate I was about getting this resource out there, and just start spreading the word from the people I knew. And then it, it kind of went from there. So I started with, you know, one or two people that I had known previously who were willing to do it, but then, you know, they would reach out to others and, and if they didn’t know somebody, so it was just kind of like, you know, you tell two people and they tell two people and they tell two people, so the word just spread. And then I was amazed that I received, um, 14 actual interviews and 10 of those appear in the book.
Jaime Davis: Oh, wow. Did you ever find that anyone was hesitant to talk to you, um, that you had reached out to about interviewing?
Kimberly Ewertz: No. That was the amazing part for me. Um, and then I think Lisa, the, the first person I interviewed, I think she really explained it to me because she said it was very cathartic to kind of sit down with someone and share that part of their life. And it helped her again to go through it, even though it had happened almost 50 years prior, she was in her mid fifties and she was six when the divorce or her parents first separated when she was six. So kind of just reliving that and going back through that, it was emotional for both of us. Um, but I think for, or each person, it was very, um, therapeutic for them to kind of get that, uh, having a way to release, you know, everything that they were feeling because it still stays with you, you know, no matter how many years have passed from finding out, you know, that your family is no longer gonna be together.
Jaime Davis: My guess is that these are probably conversations that, you know, these folks have not been able to have with anyone before. Certainly probably not conversations that they had with their parents. And so I’m sure it is very cathartic for them to be able to share these emotions that they’ve been holding in for so long with someone. So that’s, that’s wonderful.
Kimberly Ewertz: Yeah, that’s it exactly. Nobody really asked that question, you know?
Jaime Davis: Right.
Kimberly Ewertz: They ask, they ask the, you know, adults, how are you doing through this divorce process? But nobody asks the child, nobody sits the child down and says, you, you know, just tell me, tell me what’s going on. You know, so yeah, it was, it was late in coming, but at least they got that opportunity to talk about it and it helped them and, and I know it’s helping other people. So it was a win-win.
Jaime Davis: That’s great. Chapter nine is your son’s story. Tell us how it felt to interview your son and share his story in the book.
Kimberly Ewertz: Yes. That was an emotional ride. Um, he was, he has always been my, one of my, my husband and my son are my biggest supporters of this whole project, all five years of it. Um, but my son Tony was actually, uh, my advisor. I would send him numerous, you know, revisions and he was always so willing to give his feedback. So I gave him the same questions that I presented to all the other individuals that I interviewed. Um, but he was living on out of town at the time. So we did it via email. I sent him the questions in an email and told him to take as much time as he wanted. And it took some time cuz he said when he started, it was definitely, you know, an emotional time for him to have to kind of think back to those days. So when I got his response back and I started reading through cuz he typed up all of his answers and I started reading through. I thought I knew what I was gonna find, but I was very surprised to, to see moments in his, um, in his answers that, you know, kind of broke my heart and uh, had no idea that he was experiencing so much pain during that time.
And he just wanted us to be there for him. And neither of us was, um, really available to him as we should have been. So it was, uh, it, it was a hard thing to, to experience, but it was also helpful again for him to get that out. So I’m grateful to my son for, for, uh, cooperating and, and sharing that.
Jaime Davis: Well and what a special experience for the two of you to be able to share, you know, all of these years later, now that he’s an adult and you know, when you’re going through a divorce as a parent, it’s a really tough spot to be in because you have to take care of yourself first and your own emotions and you know, your own life has been turned upside down. And I think it is counterintuitive to show some of that vulnerability to the child. I really liked that part of the chapter where you were trying to be so strong for him and hold back those emotions. But really he just wanted to know for, from you, you know, that that y’all were going through this together. So I, I thought that was a really interesting, um, point.
Kimberly Ewertz: Yes. Um, even the, you know, the, uh, professionals, they all echoed that same sentiment. That honesty is so crucial during this time, you know, it’s wonderful to wanna be the strong one, but they also have to understand that this is impacting you in a very, um, you know, strong way. So to be able to share, yes, I’m hurt. Yes, I’m scared. But then to reinforce and back that up with, but I have friends and I have people that I am working with and people that are helping me get through this so that I am there to help you through it. That is so important. And I try to stress that again and again, through the, through the book, cuz I felt that was such a, an important thing for parents to, to really hold onto.
Jaime Davis: Yeah. I love that. I think that’s great.
Kimberly Ewertz: Thank you.
Jaime Davis: So I know that your son’s intereviewwas very emotional. Did any of the other interviews, um, stand out to you as being particularly emotional?
Kimberly Ewertz: Each of them in their own way was an emotional experience for us both. A surprising one was Noah. He, uh, his parents were so good about trying to do the 50-50 to the point where it impacted him in a very negative way because he never had the stability of the household because each household, you know, mom and dad’s homes were so vastly different, that he would go from one environment that you provided him rules and you know, the normal kind of upbringing that you want your child to have with his father. And then his mother was kind of the complete opposite where he was almost in a, they call it “parentification” where the child assumes the role of the parent. And that’s what he had to do with his mother. So that when was staying with her, he was, he was taking care of her more so than she was taking care of him.
So he was living these two very different lifestyles and they were so focused on the time they didn’t realize how much he just needed stability and that, you know, that would’ve been a better gift to give him rather than, oh, make sure she has 50% of the time and make sure he has 50%. It’s what’s best for the child. So I think sometimes that gets lost in, you know, the settlement.
Jaime Davis: Yeah I, I definitely agree with that point. Um, at least in North Carolina, I can’t speak for all states, but at least here, our judges tend to lean toward a 50-50 custody schedule unless one parent can prove why the other parent might be unfit to do 50-50. And I don’t think a lot of thought necessarily goes into whether that schedule is going to work for every child. It seems more to come from a place of, you know, the parents are equally able to parent. Um, but I agree 50-50 is not going to be best for every child just because they are all so different and have, you know, very different emotional needs and otherwise
Kimberly Ewertz: Yes, that’s exactly how it was for Noah. So I think that’s a, that was an important, you know, I didn’t know that going in a lot of times, I didn’t know their stories going in. So it was amazing to find out all of these things that you assume is the right or best thing for the child. And then you’re like not always.
Jaime Davis: The end of your book contains a section called “The Experts Weigh In”, which I found to be very helpful. Tell our listeners a little bit about that section.
Kimberly Ewertz: Sure. As I mentioned, I interviewed a number of the professionals in marriage and family counseling field. So I came away from those interviews with so much information and not all of it made it into each chapter. So I was working with my, uh, copy editor or proofreader. And I said, I have all this other additional information that I know is valuable. You know? Um, I really wanna find the best way to get that to the people reading this book. And she suggested the format of Q&A, and it was like, that’s brilliant. You know? So, um, most of the, the topics covered in the Q&A are just additional information provided by the experts that I think are go be very helpful cuz they address a number of universal questions that all parents go through when they’re in this situation.
Jaime Davis: Yeah. I think it’s a great resource. I mean they can just flip to the back of the book and there are, you know, some very frequently asked questions back there and they can get some great tips and advice from the experts. Um, you know, again, as a divorce lawyer, I think that is an invaluable resource for folks that are going through the process.
Kimberly Ewertz: Well thank you for that Jamie, because that’s exactly my thought. I’m like if I had had this, you know, and, and I’m, I could have like just gone to, why is he acting out? Why is he angry? Why is he playing with matches? You know, these answers are right there and it’s like that would’ve, that would’ve been so helpful. So I tried to get that out there for, for parents today.
Jaime Davis: Right because you just need a little bit of direction, you know, when you’re kind of, you know, flailing around and you’re like, why is my child doing this? You know, those answers can at least help point the parent in the right direction to get any additional help or resources that they may need.
Kimberly Ewertz: And you know, it’s, it’s kind of a common, you know, reaction for child. You know that your child isn’t like, oh God, is he, you know, he or she getting you so completely derailed here. It’s like, no, this is a part of the process. So it kind of pacifies the parent to know, okay, my child is not the only one that has, has gone through this and I’m not the only one that’s gone through this, so. Okay. Yeah. That, that can help a lot too.
Jaime Davis: Absolutely. What do you believe is the biggest takeaway for readers of your book?
Kimberly Ewertz: Well, first and foremost, um, I want like any bad situation when you’re, when you’re going through a divorce, even though you know that it’s a commonality in today’s world, but it doesn’t feel common when you personally are going through it. It’s very emotional, very traumatizing. So this book hopefully is, gives the message to the parents reading it. You’re not alone. And because of the section where I share, you know, what my son and I went through at, at the, after each chapter, it lets them know that, you know, the person who wrote this book went through the same journey you’re going through. So you’re gonna get through this. He, my son and I got through it. And so are you and your children. Hope is the biggest gift I wanna give to the readers. And then just the additional advice that comes from the professionals that maybe some people don’t have, you know, the means to reach out for a professional, you know, this will at least give them a start. That was my biggest wish to give to everyone who reads the book.
Jaime Davis: Well, I thought the book was wonderful and I thought you did a great job. Like I said earlier, I really enjoyed this very different perspective on a very common topic. Um, and I love the message. You know, it’s not a one size fits all for every family, but there is hope and they will get through it. It’s just gonna take some time.
Kimberly Ewertz: Thank you, Jamie. I appreciate that. That means a lot.
Jaime Davis: So now it’s time for the final four. Um, we’re gonna carry that on into this season as we’ve done in past seasons of the podcast. Um, the goal is for us to get to know a little bit more about you. And so we have four questions that we’re gonna, that we’re gonna ask. Um, the first question is what are your self-care go-tos?
Kimberly Ewertz: My self-care recently has been, um, reaching out for a therapy. Uh, I went through it when, you know, during the, during and after the divorce and it was very helpful. And I think that is, uh, a resource that is available to most people that should take advantage of it. You know, when certain situations arise, I experienced, um, a loss, and to help me through that grief, I knew I needed additional help because I wasn’t getting over it on my own. So, um, yeah, I mean, to be completely honest, I checked in with my therapist and that has been a huge help to me. And you come out stronger for it, so, and you understand yourself better. So it’s been a, a good self care.
Jaime Davis: Absolutely. What have you discovered about yourself during the pandemic?
Kimberly Ewertz: It was a discovery that I kind of already knew that I was sort of an organized person. I like, you know, things set out the night before you, so that they’re all ready to go in the morning. Everything has a place and you, you know, but when the pandemic hit, I think because so much was out of our control in every aspect of our lives that I became even more hyper organized because that was something I could control. So trying to ease up on that a bit, but for the most part, um, it just kind of strengthened the organizational part of me that likes things in order.
Jaime Davis: Right. It makes sense if you can’t control things outside of your home, but you can inside everything is gonna be very, very nice neat and organized. Did you acquire any strange pandemic habits that have stuck with you?
Kimberly Ewertz: Honestly? I don’t think so. I mean, um, I, I think what came out of, it’s not really a habit, but what was the discovery, I guess you would say from, uh, the whole pandemic situation is I didn’t miss the socializing so much. It, it was almost like I enjoyed being home with my family and just being me. So I actually kind of like myself more because I’m more comfortable with myself because when you’re in a social situation, even though you’re among maybe friends and, and neighbors or co you still feel like you have to put your best foot, you know, face forward. And so, you know, there’s a bit of being on all the time and we didn’t have to deal with that during the pandemic. So it was kind of a relief. And I, I think I like myself more, I feel more comfortable with myself now.
Jaime Davis: I liked that part too. It was nice to slow down a little bit and just stay home and, you know, not feel obligated to say yes to all of the things, because there were no things to say yes to.
Kimberly Ewertz: Yeah, exactly.
Jaime Davis: Well, the last question, um, now that restrictions are starting to lift in most places, is there anywhere that you’d like to travel?
Kimberly Ewertz: Yes. If you gave me a magic wand and then you can go anywhere you want, I would go back to London cause I’ve been fortunate enough to visit there before, when my husband had a business, you know, a work trip. So he was out do his work day and I would get to go do the touristy things. So I would love the opportunity for us both to go back there as tourists, where he didn’t have to work and we could share that again. But in reality, probably our very first trip will be back to St. Louis because that’s where we’re from. And we haven’t been back in five years so we’re overdue for a visit.
Jaime Davis: Well, I hope that you are able to get to both of those places very soon. I know that I am looking forward to traveling as well and, and can’t wait to, to go somewhere fun.
Kimberly Ewertz: Well, I, I wish you good, happy travels.
Jaime Davis: Well, Kimberly, thank you for joining me today. If any of our listeners would like to contact you, what is the best way for them to reach you?
Kimberly Ewertz: Um, the easiest way is simply to go to my website, which is familyredefinedbook.com. And from there, you can learn a little bit more about me. You can see reviews of the book and you can also click on either Little Creek Press, which is the publisher of Family Redefined, and purchase a copy. Or there’s also a button there for Amazon, which it’s available on Amazon. It’s at Barnes and Noble online. It’s at many online vendors. So that’s a quick way to be able to get a copy of the book.
Jaime Davis: Well, Kimberly, thank you again.
I hope you all found the, this episode of A Year in a Day to be helpful. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a reminder, while in my role as a lawyer, my job is to give folks legal advice. The purpose of this podcast is not to do that. This podcast is for general informational purposes only should not be used as legal advice and as specific to the law in North Carolina. If you have questions before you take any action, you should consult with a lawyer who’s licensed in your state.