Deesha Philyaw of Mamalicious! recently received a little love from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in regards to the site that she runs with her ex-husband, Co-Parenting 101. On the site they try to shed some light on the issues encountered when parenting after divorce.
Civility and custody: Web sites help divorced spouses raise their children together
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
By L.A. Johnson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Interaction between divorced parents can resemble the Bruce Willis-Demi Moore blissful step-family model, the Alec Baldwin-Kim Basinger divorce-is-a-battlefield example or anywhere in between.
Deesha Philyaw and Mike Thomas have gone the Bruce and Demi route.
Since they divorced two years ago, they've tried to healthfully co-parent their two daughters. They live close to each other in Regent Square, so the children can easily split their time between their two homes and talk almost daily about what's going on with the girls, ages 5 and 9. They even socialize together with their new significant others.
Now, they're offering help to other divorced parents through the Web site Coparenting101.org, which has blog entries, articles, Web links, reader questions and other information for people trying to co-parent after divorce.
They hope the information they offer and stories they share on the site about their post-divorce relationship can serve as an example to others about what's possible.
"Most people are not in situations like ours," says Ms. Philyaw, 37.
The Web site came about because friends and family were so astonished at how sane, respectful and drama-free their post-marriage relationship has been, some joked they should write a self-help or how-to book for other divorced parents. A book proposal now is in the works, and they started the Web site, in part, as research for the book.
"Most people say they would die for their children," says Mr. Thomas, also 37. "This really challenges people to see if they would live for their kids."
Taking on the challenge of co-parenting in a healthy way forces divorced couples to make choices they selfishly might not if they were thinking only of themselves and not their children, he said.
"Once you've decided it's about something other than yourself, it puts the other things in perspective," Mr. Thomas said. "The children didn't ask for this situation ... and I owe them the best possible life that I can provide. Staying together in the marriage wasn't possible, but other things are possible."
It takes time for everyone involved to work through the pain and anger of divorce to achieve the goal of healthy co-parenting.
"From coordinating kids activities on almost a daily basis to taking a vacation as a family each year to playing cards with our respective significant others, Deesha and I had managed to forge a very good post-divorce relationship, by any account," Mr. Thomas wrote in one blog post.
However, despite that fact, some friends and family still wanted to know how his ex-wife reacted when he told her he was engaged.
"Clearly, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the expectation was that an 'ex' WILL lose their mind in these situations, positive relationship notwithstanding," he wrote.
She didn't. In fact, in another blog post, Ms. Philyaw interviewed her ex-husband's fiancee. When people ask her why or tell her she's a better woman than they would be in a similar situation, she asks, "Why?"
"What do you lose in positioning yourself in such a way where you're not only civil to the other woman or the first wife, depending upon which side you're on?" she said. "Children need more than civility; they need permission to like this new person.
"By having a rapport or a friendly interaction with the new person or the ex-spouse, it really gives children permission to relax and forge their own opinion and relationship with their parent's new partner without having to worry about loyalty issues, 'What does mom or dad think?' "
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