We had the good fortune of connecting with Rod McCall and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rod, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
Divorce is hard on all involved, especially the children. I went through a very difficult marriage and saw what it did to my son. I came from a loving family with parents that were married for 60 years. I thought this is what marriage was supposed to be like. Oh, I didn’t believe it would all be sunshine and roses, but you work together to make it through all the difficult and challenging times as well as the wonderful times. When my ex informed me she had filed for divorce, I was devastated. I knew things weren’t great, but I didn’t realize they were that bad. Over the next 18 months, I was subjected to a living hell that is better known as family court. It is highly confrontational, especially when your former spouse, who you swore to love until the end of days, has declared war on you. That is how it felt. First she limited my time with my son, who we had spent most of our days together since he was born. Now, I had every other weekend. Then, when I stood my ground and insisted that we have equal shared custody, the false allegations began. Four times she made false claims of various types of abuse against our son. She even had him make outcrys. This caused me to lose my job as a teacher, time with my son thanks to CPS, and finally my freedom as I was arrested due to the false claims. While I was ultimately cleared by a grand jury of any wrong doing, the damage was done. She plaid all kinds of games that made my son pretend he didn’t like me or want to spend time with me, at least when she was around. When we were together, we had great times as we went on a variety of small and large adventures. Then, as we pushed for the final divorce trial, she filed to terminate my parental rights. On advice of my lawyer, I returned the favor and then we went to a trial with a jury to decide who was going to be my son’s sole parent. It took a week of testimony that was filled with more false claims by her and her family and some gut wrentching testimony by me. When it was all done, the jury ruled 11-1 in my favor, thus terminating her parental rights. I went home to get my son from his mother’s house, but with me standing at the front door knocking, she entered through the alley in the rear of the house and proceeded to the master bedroom where she executed him and then took her own life. To say the least, I was devastated. In time, I would discover that many of the actions she had taken fit under the heading of Parental Allienation. I came to know this term and its many different looks in the years since. I have done a variety of research on the topic. That is what led me to write my book, For The Love of Eryk. It not only talks about my experiences but also many of the symptoms that can help identify when this is happening to others. I also included stories from others who are familiar with Parental Alienation. I am now on a crusade to help change family law to make the system less adversarial and limit the harm to children. I have been lucky enough to travel and speak to many different groups and organizations around the country sharing both my experiences as well as my research on the topic. This has included speaking before the Texas State Legislature, lobbying members of Congress and speaking with the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C. Little did I know that sharing my experiences with divorce and the loss of my son would change my life so much as I seek to spread the word that children need to be allowed to have a successful relationship with both parents.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I have spent most of my adult career in education. I graduated with a teaching degree in 1993, but after a few years in the private business world, I took my place in front of the classroom in 2002. I am a social studies teacher and I have loved the ability to share not only conent knowledge with my many students, but also life skills on how to be a good person as well as treat others with respect. I will also say that I have learned way more from my students than I probably ever taught them. I have learned that many of my students have discoverd how to survive the many challenges that they face at home. In getting to know my students each year, I hear difficult stories of how they struggle with broken families, separate homes with mom and dad, step parents and blended families. After my divorce, their stories hit home even more as I recall what my own son when through. In the past 12 years, I feel like I have become less of a teacher and more of a counselor as I attempt to help these young people as they struggle with their feelings and make sense of their world. Between my own personal experiences with family court and a better understanding of my students issues with life, I have begun training to become a professional counselor which I hope will allow me to take my skills and experiences to better assist these young people better cope with their lives.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My two best friends came to town with their family at Christmas time a few years ago and I sought to show them a true down home Texas good time. We included going to the Gaylord Hotel for a trip to the Ice Show. They enjoyed that a great deal, but when we took them to downtown Grapevine to visit Christmas town, they went nuts. There is so much to see and enjoy as they explored the many displays as well as the little shops up and down the main drag. We explored the Deerfield neighborhood in west Plano to show off the many wonderful Christmas lights, with warm mugs of hot chocolate to warm our hands as we drove along the various streets with the windows down. No trip is complete without a trip to Dealey Plaza. As a history buff, we explored the route that Kennedy’s caravan took through downtown Dallas that fateful November day. I shared many of the known facts as well as some of colorful conspiracy theories that have arisen in the years since his death. We toured the 6th Floor Museum as well as the gift store across the street. We ate lunch at Klyde Warren Park and explored the multiple food trucks cuisine. As their youngest daughter celebrated her birthday while here, we took them to the Magic Time Machine in Addison. They enjoyed the food, especially the Roman Orgy Feast, but the hit of the evening were the many interactions with the various servers who stayed in character as various super heros, Star Wars and Disney personalities. And no trip is complete without a trip to Buc-ees. So, as they headed back north to Kansas and home, we stopped with them to explore all the wonderful treats found inside the Melissa, TX Buc-ees. They were overwhelmed with the many varieties of snacks, fudge, sandwhiches, though my best friend was thrilled with his dozen of suasage kolaches. While they were here for only a few days, they were satisifed with their trip and ready to head home to rest up from all the fun filled adventures we provided them.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give a big shout out to my parents who instilled in me the ability to get back up everytime I have been knocked down. My family who stuck by me and supported me when times were darkest. My friends, especially Tom and Steve, who never lost faith in me and provided the strength to never quit. This list cannot be complete without the saving grace of the wonderful people of the Divorce Support Group who showed me how to learn to live again. Lastly, and most importantly, my wonderful wife Sheri who showed me how to love again. You are all my reason for continuing the struggle to make divorce and child custody a more friendly and less confrontational experience.

Website: Fortheloveoferyk.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fortheloveoferyk/

Other: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Eryk-Surviving-Parental-Alienation/dp/0984603581

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