Philyaw and Thomas Speak Wisdom About Parenting Post-Divorce

I’ve posted a piece about this couple and their website before.  I’m doing it again and for the same reason – they make so much sense.  Here’s their latest article (Huffington Post, 12/16/10).

The couple is Deesha Philyaw and Michael Thomas and their website is 

The two met in college, dated, married, had two children and then their marriage fell apart and they divorced.  What they did after that and how they conduct their lives now should be read and understood by every person with kids who’s divorced, divorcing or contemplating divorce.

Philyaw says that she and Thomas have a good, constructive relationship as friends and

[W]e’re often asked “How in the world do you do it?”, and is our answer. We do it because our children deserve peace and reassurance. Though divorce ended our marriage, our family endures.

I can’t get over how sensible and clear that is.  Divorce ended their marriage but, because their children deserve peace and reassurance, their family endures.  Every family court should have a large sign on its wall with just that message: “You may be divorcing, but your family endures.”  Or words to that effect.

Philyaw is clear that, however amicable they appear in public, she and Thomas have had real conflict.  Divorce is not easy and theirs was no exception.  But they

 managed to cobble together a friendship that buoys their current co-parenting arrangement.

In short, they do what’s necessary for their kids to be as well-off as possible under the circumstances.  That included, for a time, living within a block of each other.  Now they live a whopping 15 minutes apart.  That makes cooperative parenting all the easier and freer of stress.

Philyaw makes an important point – that the skills that make a marriage work are not the same as those required for good parenting.  So when people wonder why, since they work so well together as parents, they couldn’t work together as a couple, that’s the answer.

In our case, not having to contend with the pressure of the troubled marriage and the expectations related to it was precisely what allowed us to interact without an undercurrent of frustration, anger, and tension — eventually. That’s not to say that we don’t still have disagreements — after all, there are reasons why we aren’t a couple anymore. But we’re much better at working through our differences now that our only expectations of each other are related to our children’s needs.

To me, that’s an uplifting message; talk about making lemonade!  It means that the conflicts that produce divorce don’t need to produce conflicts in childcare.  Of course the friendship Philyaw and Thomas maintain requires personal attributes that not everyone has.  So not everyone will be capable of their amazingly nurturing relationship. 

Still, I say again, everyone with kids who’s divorced or about to be, needs to read what Philyaw and Thomas have accomplished and how.  Truly their words and actions need to be known. 

As the two willingly acknowledge, they aren’t superheroes; they’re just parents with their priorities straight.  They set aside the hurt and the anguish and concentrate on what they must do together – care for their children in as loving and constructive a manner as possible.

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