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‘Your Kid is Coming Back’: La Jolla mom publishes a book to help herself and others deal with shared custody

Brynne MacEachern's book includes journal prompts for people struggling with the emotions of shared child custody.
(Courtesy of Brynne MacEachern)

To ease the sting of shared custody of her daughter, La Jolla resident Brynne MacEachern wrote a book that she hopes will help others struggling with similar emotions.

“Your Kid is Coming Back: A Feel-Good Reminder for Parents with Shared Custody,” published Dec. 15, is intended to remind parents that their children are OK and will be returning. It also includes journal prompts to list conversation topics for the kids’ return, the parents’ feelings about separation and more.

“I initially wrote the book for myself,” MacEachern said. “My daughter’s dad and I are getting divorced.”

MacEachern, who works in human resources at a local law firm, said that in processing her feelings about the separation and divorce, “I didn’t even consider this is also going to be a 50 percent separation from my kid. That was very impactful; it hit me later.”

She said she spent much of her energy helping her 6-year-old daughter, a student at La Jolla Elementary School, through the transition.

“You’re left with all these emotions. I initially had a lot of anxiety and some depression,” MacEachern said. “When my daughter would leave, I would get really sad. And I would have to remind myself, ‘It’s OK, she’s coming back.’”

MacEachern, who also wrote an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times on experiencing divorce in a pandemic, said she realized “if I’m feeling this way, a lot of other parents are feeling this way as well.”

She bought her daughter several books intended to help children work through their feelings about divorce, but parents “need a book like that to help,” MacEachern said.

La Jolla resident Brynne MacEachern
La Jolla resident Brynne MacEachern wrote a book to help separated and divorced parents deal with their feelings about shared child custody.
(Bairly Media)

Her daughter helped MacEachern craft the journal prompts and text for the pictures. The book’s illustrations are based on pictures her daughter drew. Many of the pages are “based off of things that we were going through at the time,” MacEachern said.

“We would have lots of conversations,” she said, “because at first I didn’t really understand how to talk to her about [the divorce]. I really just wanted her to feel happy, but then I realized that she also gets anxiety when she goes back and forth and that it was OK for her to realize that I was sad about it.”

She said she didn’t want her daughter “to think that when she leaves … it’s a party and I have so much fun. It was actually healthy for her to understand that this is something that would ultimately be good for our family, but in the moment, it does feel sad for both of us.”

In writing “Your Kid is Coming Back,” MacEachern said she learned “that kids are so much more intuitive than you think.”

“Having that open dialogue with [her daughter] and talking with her about it really helped us both understand where we were coming from,” she added. “It was good for her ... to know that I was missing her. And then it was also cool to share with her that you can take something sad and do something positive with it.

“I still read the book to myself every day. I hope that it just helps people feel better that they did. Ultimately, you have to reinforce to yourself that it’ll be good long-term.”

She said she also hopes the book will “start a conversation about that part that we often don’t talk about, which is that there’s emotional fallout for adults, too, when you’re separated from your kids.”

“You can get through it,” she said. “But you do need coping mechanisms and you do need to be prepared for that.”

“Your Kid is Coming Back: A Feel-Good Reminder for Parents with Shared Custody” can be purchased at etsy.com/shop/yourkidiscomingback.