Davis Palmour begins most of his days the same way: he makes a full pot of coffee, scrambles some eggs and sits in his dining room while reading the paper and eating breakfast.
His house is quiet in the mornings. It’s only him and his 18-year-old son who drives himself to Lumpkin County High School during the week and sleeps in late during the weekends. They are the only two living in the modest home in the mountains of Dahlonega, Georgia. But this wasn’t always the case.
Palmour was married to AriElla Anaies for six years. They divorced in 2006 when their son, Marius, was five.
Before the divorce was finalized, Palmour attended a court-mandated class for divorcing parents. Now, fast-forward 11 years, Palmour teaches the class eight times a month in various locations around the state.
“The best way to learn is to teach, right?” he said. “I wanted to learn the material so I could practice it with my own son, it seemed like the best way.”
Palmour relies on his personal experiences when teaching the classes. He discusses his two divorces, focusing mainly on his most recent, and explains the nuances of figuring out how to balance a divorced life while still providing a family for your child.
To ensure he practices what he preaches, Palmour remained in close contact with Anaies in the years following their divorce, even though she moved to Colorado Springs and he opted to stay in Dahlonega.
He scheduled Skype dates for Marius, paid for plane and bus tickets and even offered up his guest room, all in the name of keeping Marius and his mom in close contact.
“Kids need both of their parents,” Palmour said. “If not, he will grieve her loss.”
Palmour focuses much of his lessons for recent divorcees on grief. He explains how the death of the relationship can only mean the start of new stresses and opportunities for growth, so parents must allow and support their kids through the grieving stages so they are able to retain a healthy relationship with their family.
The one thing he hopes attendees will walk away from the class with is a new way of thought. Rather than giving explicit directions for what to do in unique scenarios, Palmour argues that understanding a consistent way of looking at divorce-related situations will benefit the leaver, the “leavee” and the kids stuck in the middle.
“We tend to move in the direction of the familiar, especially in times of stress,” he said. “So unless we create a new familiar, whatever our coping mechanism was is what we’ll go back to in times of stress.”
Exercising is one way Palmour likes to cope. Another is going to the movies, alone, in the middle of the day. As a self-proclaimed “movie buff,” Palmour said getting lost in the storylines of other lives helps him decompress when his stress starts to build up.
Outside of his work with divorcees, Palmour spends most of his time coaching clients through therapy, specifically through hypnosis.
Palmour has worked as a hypnotherapist for more than 15 years and now has his own practice in Dahlonega – The Palmour Group, LLC.
Before beginning his career as a hypnotherapist, and much before his son came into the picture, Palmour worked at Mercer University as the Dean of Students.
Today, Palmour is using the knowledge he has gained from all of his experiences – from changing careers to getting through two divorces – to help others mitigate the harm that can be caused to their children due to separation.
He said he presents the material and talks through his own experiences in the most easy-to-understand terms because he wants all parents to understand the importance of nourishing their children to be self-sufficient. Though it can be difficult at times, his advice is to nail down a way of thinking that is healthy for you and your child, and then always return back to that in times of stress.
“Life is really, really easy,” he said. “It’s just not that easy to pull off.”
Kaley Lefevre is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. This story was produced during the 14th Annual Woodall Weekend Workshop in Dahlonega, Georgia.
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