From Overthinking to Overcoming - SE4EP01 - Rosemary Gattuso

Today, we're thrilled to have Rosemary Gattuso join us. With over 15 years of experience in alternative dispute resolution, specializing in family mediation and restorative justice practices, Rosemary brings a wealth of knowledge on nurturing family dynamics, particularly in times of change.

Her approach, deeply rooted in being present, trauma-informed, and strengths-based, offers a compassionate pathway for families navigating separation or looking to strengthen their bonds. An author, facilitator, and trainer, Rosemary merges her expertise in law, neuroscience, and trauma with practical strategies for overcoming personal adversity.

Her commitment to transforming overthinking into strengths reflection is not only inspiring but incredibly relevant for parents and children alike. Let's explore how Rosemary's insights can empower us to foster resilience, understanding, and growth within our families.

Connect with Rosemary Gattuso:


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AI Generated Transcription

Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome to the Parenting in the Digital Age podcast. Many parents are concerned that their child might be falling behind. Others are just looking for ways to help their children thrive, not just in the classroom, but socially and well into their future careers. Each episode we explore the challenges facing parents in the modern world, from behavior, education, and nutrition to device and gaming addiction. We interview a range of leaders in the area of childhood development to help you successfully navigate parenting in the digital age. Here is your host, Jamie Buttigieg.

Jamie (00:01.31)
Hello parents and welcome to Parenting in the Digital Age, the podcast where we delve into the unique challenges and opportunities of raising children in today's fast -paced tech -driven world. Each episode features conversations with experts and thought leaders who provide actionable insights and practical guidance for navigating life as modern parents. Today, I'm pleased to have Rosemary Gattuso with us. With over 15 years of experience in alternate dispute resolution, specializing in family mediation and restorative justice practices.
Rosemary brings a wealth of knowledge on nurturing family dynamics, particularly in times of change. Her approach, deeply rooted in being present, trauma -informed and strength -based, offers a compassionate pathway for families navigating separation or looking to strengthen their bonds. An author, facilitator and trainer, Rosemary merges her expertise in law, neuroscience and trauma with practical strategies for overcoming personal adversity.
The commitment to transforming overthinking into strengths reflection is not only inspiring, but incredibly relevant for parents and children alike. So let's explore how Rosemary's insights can empower us to foster resilience, understanding and growth within our families.

Jamie (00:01.178)
Rosemary, welcome to the show. In your own words, tell us a bit about what you do and what you are passionate about.
Rosemary Gattuso (00:06.96)
Okay, well essentially I'm really passionate about just being present with people and also curious about behaviour and why people respond in a certain way that they do and that really sparked my curiosity and I guess my interest and exploration of behaviour.
you know, overcoming adversity and why I noticed trends as a mediator.
Jamie (00:43.1)
So maybe share, we'll start with the mediation piece. So maybe share with us a bit about the foundational principles of family mediation and maybe how they can even be applied within the family home.
Rosemary Gattuso (00:53.648)
Yeah, okay. So as a family mediator, so my role is really to sit with parents and help guide their conversations because, and it's at the point of separation. So it's all post -separation conversations, which are generally about parenting could also be property, but I tend to focus on parenting.
And so my role is really not to take sides, not to give an opinion or make a judgment. It's just about helping to guide that conversation with a real focus on what's in the best interest of the children. And I'm not saying that separating parents can't do that on their own, but sometimes anyone in conflict, it can be hard to really distance yourself from the person that has.
harmed you or wronged you or disappointed you in any way or just, you know, things didn't turn out. So, so having that third party neutral in the room and it's quite opposite to the adversarial system. Because the adversarial system is, you know, us versus them, she did this, he did that and showing blame, whereas, and evidence -based, whereas mediation is not evidence -based. There is evidence there, but really the focus is on the needs of the children.
Jamie (02:16.828)
Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. What are some of the more common challenges that families face during separation? And perhaps a second part of the question is how does a child focused approach help them navigate these challenges?
Rosemary Gattuso (02:29.36)
Yeah, well, look, one of the biggest challenges at the moment is the financial impact of separation. And I feel that it's just gotten worse and worse as, you know, living in, I mean, I'm in Sydney, so living in Sydney is quite expensive, even other parts of Australia as well. And going through a separation, there's always that financial impact that sometimes the...
the actual, I don't want to say impact, but the reality of going from a one family unit where everything, all expenses were shared to then being two separate households can really be a bit of a challenge. And a lot of parents nowadays are opting,
to stay separated under the same roof. And so that's becoming more common and acceptable. I guess the challenge there is how do you balance the children's needs as well? Because it's like the conflicting needs between an individual and the family. And that can be often really the seed of a lot of family conflict and disagreement.
within separation because if I'm separating and I now have to maybe work more hours or change my work arrangements to then be able to do pick up and drop off and all these things or pay someone to do it, then I have to really focus on me and what I have to do as well. But there's also the family unit and trying to make sure that all the children are supported and looked after and.
And it's that continual balance between working to support a family, between being there to raise the children. And in this society more and more, that's a really delicate balance.
Jamie (04:41.916)
Yeah, it really is. You talk in your work about this strengths -based approach to mediation. What is that?
Rosemary Gattuso (04:51.024)
Well, using the strength based approach, you can really categorize all thoughts, feelings and actions under two options. So one option is to focus on what's wrong in the situation and the other option is to focus on what's strong. And I guess what I started to see is that you could have a mediation in one room with very similar circumstances to a mediation in another room, but where there's...
the approach, whether or not they focused on what's wrong or what's strong, could actually relay into very different outcomes. So two families, very similar sort of challenges to look at, but very different outcomes. And you know, you could say, well, one family in one situation, there was a focus on the weaknesses and what went wrong and the past. So it was hard to really
reestablish roles and responsibilities with a future focus, whereas where it was focusing on the strengths and that also means what's been learnt out of that situation. So it's reframing a mistake to a learning opportunity. And when you look at it that way then a mistake where we aren't able to extract the learning then it's a missed learning opportunity. It's not you know so but where families focus more on what's strong then
there was more of a future focus and easier to or smoother and even quicker to overcome the any hurdles that were faced and and recalibrate the roles of everyone in their family.
Jamie (06:35.836)
That's interesting, actually. And that can be quite powerful, just shifting that view, that one percent. How could maybe me as a parent or even those in separating situations use a strengths -based approach in everyday family interactions? Do you think that's something the parents could do?
Rosemary Gattuso (06:54.032)
Yeah, I think once you start looking at things under either what's wrong and what's strong, then it becomes easier to classify and also to classify what our thoughts, feelings and actions are. But also to learn from what we're doing or what we have done. Because, you know, sometimes it's almost impossible to just focus on what's strong in a situation the whole time. And that's
That's not what I'm suggesting, but if we are able to learn from the times that we haven't, then that will help us change the narrative for the next time we are faced with a similar hurdle, then how quickly we can overcome that can increase. And that's the hope. It's not necessarily about being positive the whole time. It's about learning from when we haven't.
Jamie (07:48.156)
Yeah, that could be incredibly powerful and a good way to model those behaviors that you want your children to adopt as well, because I think it's a really great view. In the intro, I talked about restorative justice. Now, I might sound like I'm sitting under a rock here. What is a restorative justice panel?
Rosemary Gattuso (08:08.304)
Well, restorative justice is a kind of victim offender conference. And so what that means is where there's been, you know, situations where a crime has been committed, or there's some sort of abuse that took place, and it's normally in the work that I do, it's normally within institutions, more organisations, then restorative justice,
is an opportunity for whoever was harmed to tell their story, to talk about what happened to them and the impact that that's had on them. And then for a representative of that institution or organization to hear and respond and potentially apologize.
Jamie (08:55.292)
Thank you. That was more for my own curiosity. Maybe some listeners had a similar question as well, because I mentioned that in the introduction. In your experience, how important is the role of understanding trauma in parenting?
Rosemary Gattuso (09:09.232)
think it can really help give more meaning to what we're seeing generally. Because, and what I mean by that is that, so I see trauma or I guess I'm trying, I'm also trying to move away from the word trauma, even though I use it a lot and talk about being trauma informed because it's really about our behavior being
clues as to our experience. So if you see someone's behavior, so normally you might say, oh, they've got a behavioral issue or there's something odd or they're a bit quirky or whatever, you know, then, or they've got a diagnosis. So then this is, you know, being trauma informed is about then being curious about what that show, what that behavior actually shows about their experience.
And the thing is, as parents come in with their own experience as well. So it's also about being aware and mindful of how our own experience impacts how we respond to the world as well. And of course, that includes parenting. And if you merge sort of being trauma informed in the parenting,
situation, then I would be encouraging a strengths -based approach. And one way that I try to explain the strengths -based approach is if we look at a participation certificate in schools. I know that there's been a lot of people for and against it and question it, but really, you have a participation certificate which focuses on that individual.
because that individual didn't have to participate, but they did. So that's really acknowledging, you know, what their story and their, you know, what they have done. Whereas a merit -based certificate, and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but if you look at this as just for example, merit -based, it compares an individual to others. And the starting point is someone else, or, you know, you got this out of a hundred and there are other people who got more and...
Rosemary Gattuso (11:36.112)
So that, I guess that's the implication as well. And it can also be more likely to highlight the weaknesses. You got this, but you didn't get that. So that's a very, very basic way that I kind of explain strengths -based, because it really focuses on the uniqueness of that individual. Because often in parenting, when you look at types of parenting that aren't strengths -based,
they tend to have a comparison, whether or not it's direct or indirect, but it's implied that there's something wrong because this is the right way. And that's, you know, very, very general. But I mean, even if you go to a Saturday morning soccer game and you hear the comments that parents are making, sometimes they're not very strengths -based. You know, it's just very, you know, I guess there's...
there's opportunities to use strength space and maybe there's opportunities where, you know, more sort of traditional discipline and ways that, you you, you know, your children, you're the, you're the expert in your children. So keep that, you know, take that on board. But if you have a sensitive child and when I say sensitive child, I mean, either they're sensitive because they're responding to their environment that has taught them to be sensitive.
or they're sensitive because biologically, you know, about a quarter of the population have this sensitivity to, that are going to be more aware and in tune to their outside. But regardless of what type of sensitivity they have, if you have a sensitive child, then they're going to respond more to a strengths -based approach, you know, and they're all at the same time, they're going to respond more to a...
an approach that doesn't focus on their strength, that focuses on their weakness, and that's going to be a lot heavier for them.
Jamie (13:35.068)
Yeah, yeah. Interesting view. Look, I completely agree with the strength based approach. I think I'll be controversial and say I'm definitely against participation certificates. But let me just clarify that. I think that's because I'll use our own classrooms as context. I think if we give participation certificates, it's because perhaps we're lazy and we're not looking for the merit or the achievement because every child achieves.
Rosemary Gattuso (13:45.52)
Let's start.
Jamie (14:02.62)
And in our classrooms, we have, you know, you walk into a class, there might be 10 or 20 students all working on their own project at their own pace, experiencing their own version of success. And it's up to that adult, that coach, that mentor, that facilitator, the educator to really look for the achievements of every child and reward and recognize that achievement. Not comparing to others, we don't compare in the classroom, but we also don't reward them just for turning up.
So it's maybe maybe that's a middle ground or a safe middle ground. But I think as adults we can look for and praise and reward and recognize the behaviors or the achievements that each child gives. I don't know if I articulated that quite the right way, but.
Rosemary Gattuso (14:40.08)
No, that makes sense. And essentially, it's really about putting the focus on the individual. And if there was time and resources to then have a participation certificate that actually highlighted the individual's strength, then that would just take it to a next level.
Jamie (14:56.476)
And I think, well, look, I can't speak for every context and every sporting event and whatever. Sometimes there are a lot of kids, but I know we certainly do it. And, you know, we make it a point in every single class to find something that even if one student just helped another student, you know, we praise their leadership, you know, or their mentorship skills or their kindness and those values and behaviors that, you create great citizens and leaders. Anyway, let's not get off track.
You wrote a book and it's like literally fresh off the press. It's not even off the press yet. There's an ebook that just came out. It's called, It's Not You, It's Me, The Chronic Overthinkers Guide to Self -Reflection. And it merges a lot of your experience in law, family therapy, neuroscience. Tell us a bit about what inspired the book. Tell us a bit about what the book's about and maybe what inspired.
Rosemary Gattuso (15:43.472)
Yeah. Yeah. Well, essentially it's about my observations as a mediator of how people manage adversity and the trends that I noticed. And then I propose a strengths -based tool for self -reflection. And, you know, if you look at self -reflection and overthinking, they're almost the same. Well, they are. They're both an analysis of a situation.
except when we're on the overthinking side, we're analysis, sorry, analyzing a situation through the what's wrong lens. Whereas self -reflection is an analysis of a situation that focuses on what's strong. So if you can do one, you can do the other. So it's about ways to rewrite that narrative, change that lens. And, you know, as I said in the beginning that because I noticed that
mediations with very similar circumstances could often have very different outcomes. And it was really based on the lens of the individuals rather than the facts. And that's what I was interested in and really wrote about and reflected on. The trends and the lenses rather than the facts, the facts weren't as relevant as really what was being reflected in outcomes.
Jamie (17:09.18)
Yeah, yeah. So how can children benefit from self -reflection, especially in maybe managing personal adversity?
Rosemary Gattuso (17:15.376)
Yeah, well, I think nowadays there's a lot of external stimulus for children that can really highlight what's wrong for them. So any way that they can flip that narrative so that they can see the strengths in themselves can then build on their sense of self. And what I noticed and this...
this point really came out of my observations of children during the lockdown who were at those toddler age that are now maybe in kindergarten, year one, year two, that they were at these prime stages of development and social interaction at home, well, without having interactions with others. And for me, it really highlighted the importance of interactions.
with ourselves and interactions with others that focus on what's strong as a way of building our sense of self. And if we don't have enough of both or these interactions tend to focus on what's wrong, then that takes away from our sense of self. And then that impacts our resilience. How can we overcome adversity if we don't believe in ourselves and we've got evidence of why other people don't believe in ourselves and that feedback.
feeds back into our self -talk. So it's all about the quality of our thoughts and trying to help support children into seeing what's strong in themselves and to then feed back into their sense of self. And I see the sense of self as how much they can believe in themselves. And this is something that's really important because you're often...
You know, you're in a situation where others around you give you evidence and or tell you or show you why they don't believe in you or what you're doing. Well, they don't get it. But if you have a strong sense of self, then it's not going to impact you as much.
Jamie (19:26.524)
So important, it's critical, it's critical. So in a practical sense, because they're all good questions, how as a parent can I help my child self reflect? Like, where do I start?
Rosemary Gattuso (19:39.664)
Yeah. Well, I think the first place to start is with yourself as an individual, because it's much easier to use the strengths -based approach with others if you're using it with yourself. So I think that is critical. And even just being aware of situations reflecting on, because sometimes there might be a situation that...
just goes over in your head and thinking, oh, did I do the right thing? Should I have done that? Or you remember a response, you know, that happened and it might've been a year ago or more, you know, a child's response and thinking, oh, that really stayed with me. Well, maybe, you know, don't overthink it, but what are the lessons from that? And sometimes even thinking about how that could have played out.
with a what's wrong lens can help for future. But that ability to then reflect on and categorize what's wrong and what's wrong, because it's so, it's almost a reflex sometimes to focus on what's wrong because we're biologically primed to focus on what's wrong. And sometimes our upbringing gave us an extra added layer of focusing on what's wrong. So it's about undoing all those things. So we really need to.
you know, not be hard on ourselves, but just look at every opportunity as a learning opportunity. And, you know, that might also include seeking help from others, you know, that can help. Or, you know, just forgiving yourself as well is really important and forgiving maybe your parents, you know, because everyone just does.
what they were taught to do. And if your starting point is they're doing the best that they can, or they did the best that they can, and I'm doing the best that I can, then what can I learn from that? Every day is school. That's the summary, I guess. And really acknowledging the little things that children do as well.
Jamie (21:57.468)
Yeah, and then.
Rosemary Gattuso (22:05.36)
can be a starting point, the simple things that are easier to actually see what's strong, because sometimes it's harder to articulate the strengths in a tricky situation or a situation that you're not so happy with or you can't see any good in it, but start small.
Jamie (22:30.268)
Yeah, yeah, so important. And it's also in my views, it's about defining or at least asking the question, who do I want to become? What, what, how do I want to show up, you know, to my children or to my wife or to my colleagues and, and, you know, not just asking those questions, but writing those things down and saying, what does that look like? What, what behaviors do I need to have? What do I need to learn? Like, what don't I know? Sometimes they're difficult things to answer.
You do a lot of workshops and sessions in schools, I think businesses. What things have you found resonate with adolescents or parents? Like during these workshops, do they have any particular aha or defining moments?
Rosemary Gattuso (23:12.496)
I think a lot of the times even just using the categories of what's wrong and what's strong can really resonate with people because the more it sits with you, the more you can see it in everyday situations. And I also use a lot of reflection tasks that really help to draw out what's wrong and what's strong in situations and give ideas of how to rewrite it and how to be aware of...
our thoughts, feelings and actions in those moments. So, you know, even the reflection tasks, which they're all from my book, they can really help in a very, I'll say simple way to actually write down or you don't have to write it down, but process, you know, this idea of rewriting the narrative to a strengths -based approach and how to do that, what it looks like.
and how to even just reflect on it, because it's also that reflection is valuable.
Jamie (24:19.996)
Yeah, very much so. One question I do like to ask many of our guests is what advice do you have for parents in moderating their children's screen time and maybe encouraging good online experiences? But as parents, we're all struggling. Well, I think many of us are struggling. I can't speak for all parents in managing our children's screen time. And what advice do you have in that perspective?
Rosemary Gattuso (24:44.048)
Yeah. Look, it's a challenging one because sometimes, you know, you need that screen time for the kids so you can get things done because it's, you know, that's the reality. Otherwise, you know, it's hard to be there all the time engaging. I mean, depending on the age as well. So, yeah, it's a tricky one. I think...
And it can feed into the sense of self as well, because if you look at this, you know, as I said, the sense of self is about the quality of our interaction, the interactions we have with ourselves and with others. So if the other or the others is a device, then if you look at it that way, then that can help filter what's on the device because not, I mean, not all screen time is bad.
So, you know, that can help. And then also, well, if it's about interactions with others, well, and others includes situations and devices, well, then what's the mix of others as well? Is it okay, there's screen time, there's the neighbor, there's, you know, after, you know, some music lesson or interact family and thing.
So I guess it just comes down to balance. This is the way that our life is now. We're not gonna go back. We don't necessarily have enough research to actually to say you should do this or you should do that. But I guess balance because if you look at it as this is helping or interactions with others feed my child self -esteem. Is their self -esteem solely being built on or mainly being built on interactions on a screen?
And what's the quality of those in, you know, a lot of, depending on the age and what they're watching. I mean, if you have a teenager watching social media, then a lot of it focuses on what's wrong or what you should aspire to. And the implication is I don't have that. So it's something's wrong with me because I don't have that, or I have to do that because, you know, and it takes away from the individual strengths and uniqueness and goals. So that's where it can be a challenge.
Jamie (27:10.236)
Yeah, yeah, most certainly. A fun question we like to start to wrap up the podcast with and that is if you had a time machine Rosemary and you could go back to your let's say 12 year old younger self, what is one piece of advice you'd give to the young Rosemary?
Rosemary Gattuso (27:25.584)
Oh, that's interesting. I would probably say just not to worry, you know, to worry less and not to worry about what other people think or what other people say or do. Just focus.
Jamie (27:44.092)
That it's so important. And that's one of the things that just comes with age. You know, I think even if I heard that as my 12 year old self, that's what I'd tell myself. But I think that it's almost a coming of age thing. I don't know.
Rosemary Gattuso (27:48.368)
Rosemary Gattuso (27:52.496)
Rosemary Gattuso (27:56.432)
Yeah, I think so. And a lot of our, the way that, you know, we're taught about things, give, you know, lean us towards aspiring to others and looking for others and comparing ourselves. So.
Jamie (28:12.828)
Yeah, very wise words indeed. Now your book, It's not You, It's Me: The Chronic Overthinkers Guide to Self -Reflection. Tell us where can we find that and maybe where our listeners can reach out with you or connect with you on the world of the internet.
Rosemary Gattuso (28:31.152)
Yeah, probably the best place is to go on my website and I've got all the links, you know, it's on Amazon, Booktopia, Apple Books, all the standard, you know, places to find books and some stores as well.
Jamie (28:47.612)
Super, we'll put the links to the website down below. Rosemary, thanks for your time today. Thanks for your generosity and thanks for your thoughts on the strengths -based approach and mediation. Very, very important takeaways there. I certainly got a lot out of today's podcast. I know our listeners will too. Thanks again for your time. We look forward to hosting you again some other time.
Rosemary Gattuso (29:10.032)
Thank you, it's lovely to be here. Bye.
Jamie (29:11.836)
Cheers, bye for now.

If you enjoyed the show, please connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Instagram. You'll find links in the podcast description. Parenting in the Digital Age is sponsored by Skill Samurai Coding and STEM Academy for Kids. Skill Samurai offers afterschool coding classes and holiday programs to help kids thrive academically and socially while preparing them for the careers of the future. Visit
This episode is sponsored by Skill Samurai - Coding & STEM Academy