Co-Parents, Are Your Kids Protected…If the Unthinkable Happened to You?

March 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Podcast

Co-Parenting Matters

This week on Co-Parenting Matters we’re talking heavy stuff…making sure your children are protected in the case that the unthinkable should happen to you.  We don’t like to think about the possibility of our not being here for our kids, but our guest, Steve Worrall, a lawyer, dad and founder of the blog, Georgia Family Law, is going to tell us why we have to.  And, he’ll guide us through the considerations we need to make and the steps we need to take to create the peace of mind that our children and families will be taken care of whether we’re here to do it or not.

And, to get two of you started on the path to peace of mind, Steve is generously giving away a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session ($750 value) and a free guardianship nomination or other discount off of planning  ($250 value) (Georgia residents only).  And, he’s sharing a copy of Wear Clean Underwear:  A Fast, Fun, Friendly—And Essential–Guide to Legal Planning for Busy Parents.  As usual, winners will be announced during the show.

There are a few ways to enter to win:

1. Tweet about this show. Make sure to @coparentingshow, @coparenting101, or @weparent.

2. Like Us on Facebook and post about the show. Be sure to tag WeParent or CoParenting101 (to tag us on a post, type @WeParent, e.g..  If you are our Friend on FB, we’ll appear in a drop-down list that will be auto-generated when you begin typing).  This will notify us of your posting, and we’ll enter you in the drawing.

3.  Join our mailing list.  Leave a comment here letting us know that you’ve done it.

And, of course, be sure to listen to the show, this Sunday, March 20th at 9:30pm ET.  You can listen via phone at (646)378-0580 or catch the live stream at www.blogtalkradio.com/CoParentingMatters.

“Co-Parenting Teens” on the Next “Co-Parenting Matters” Show

September 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

Parenting adolescents is hard work in general, but what unique challenges come with parenting teens across two households?  We’ll explore this question on Sunday night’s episode of “Co-Parenting Matters” on BlogTalk Radio.

We’ll be joined by Annie Fox, an educator, award-winning author, and online adviser to teens and their parents. Annie helps teens get what they need for healthy social/emotional development.

We’ll also be joined by Samantha Gregory, mom of a 14-year-old daughter (and younger son), who foundedRichSingleMomma.com to empower her fellow single mommas to overcome personal obstacles and to become joyful and prosperous.

We hope you’ll join the conversation as well!  That’s Sunday night, 9/12 at 9:30 PM ET/6:30 PM PT on BlogTalkRadio (call in 646.378.0580, chat, or tweet with us @coparentingshow!)

Courtesy of Annie Fox, we are giving away a copy of Book 1 in her Middle School Confidential Series, “Be Confident in Who You Are!” There are 2 ways to enter the giveaway:

1) Leave a comment below sharing one of your middle school memories…happy or horrific.

or…

2) Answer this trivia question: Name one of  Annie Fox’s tips for teaching your daughter relationship smarts.Visit anniefox.com to find out.  Those posting correct answers  in the comments section below will be entered into the drawing.

You can enter right up to Sunday night’s show.  We’ll announce the winner on air and in Twitter.  Enter as often as you’d like!

Co-Parenting Matters This Week: Mama’s Kitchen Table Convo

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Podcast

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This Sunday night at 9:30 PM EST on “Co-Parenting Matters“, we’re hosting a Mama’s Kitchen Table Convo!  We’ll be chatting about mama-hood, relationships, money, co-parenting, hot topics in the co-parenting blogosphere, and much more!  We’re going to be joined by witty and wondeful mama-friends Lissett (@Cubanitabean on Twitter), Lisa Maria Carroll of Single Mom & More and regular contributor to our very own MamaSpeak (@LisaMCarroll), and the mama behind the MommyGlow blog, Alexandra (@YoungFabMama).  (And, yes, we’re letting Mike listen in, too!)  We hope you’ll bring out the wine and chocolates (or your favorite treat and beverage), pull up a chair, and join us at Mama’s Kitchen Table!

Listen on your phone by calling (646)378-0580 or catch the live stream online.

MamaSpeak: Mothering Beyond Biology

May 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak

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I met Tammy during her freshman year of high school. She showed up at my apartment one Friday after school when she rode the bus home with my daughter. And, in typical teenage fashion, she had not made plans for how she would get home.

I was cold. I was tired. And all I wanted to do was turn up the heat, throw on some sweats, and curl up under my electric blanket. But, my plans were thwarted when my daughter came dashing out the patio door before I could open it. “Mom is it okay if Tammy spends the night”?

“Britt, who is Tammy, and what have I told you about having people in the house when I’m not here”?

As it turned out, Britt had met Tammy that day, and decided that, as new friends, they should hang out together after school. “She’s not in the house; she’s out in the hallway.”

As badly as I wanted to lay into my first born, I knew this wasn’t the time. But I cut her a look that let her know I would deal with her later. As a mother, my first priority was to get this child—somebody’s daughter—inside. My second order of business was to contact her parents to make sure they knew where she was.

As Tammy stepped inside, I immediately noticed her stoic demeanor. She wasn’t disrespectful at all, just reserved and standoffish. Little did I know there was so much more going on with her, but I wasn’t able to connect the dots. When I asked about her mother, she politely, but firmly stated that she was not in the home right now, and that her grandmother could pick her up in the morning. I then told her that I needed to confirm that with her grandmother, and asked for a number, for which she obliged. Tammy’s grandmother informed me that due to her eyesight, she didn’t drive at night and wanted to know if it was okay for her to stay with me, and she’d come get her first thing in the morning. We agreed that Tammy could crash at my place, so I made sure the girls had what they needed for the night, and I turned in.

The following morning I was well rested and better able to process the previous night’s events. I still wanted to know what “my mother is not in the house right now” meant. Was she serving overseas in the military, working out of town, or on vacation? No. She was none of the above. She was serving time in prison. Wanting to respect Tammy’s privacy, I didn’t probe, but my daughter told me when I grilled her about this new friend. That moment marked a turning point in my life. It is when I accepted my role as den mother, something I had resisted for years.

For some reason, my kids’ friends always warmed up to me. Many of them called me Ma and loved having an adult who would listen to them, something they didn’t get at home. They saw my home as a place of refuge where they could come after school to do their homework or a place to hangout on the weekends. I admit I wasn’t always comfortable acting the role of “play” mom. I was barely 30, and saw it as a position more suited for someone more matronly than myself. I also felt like the real moms needed to step up to the plate and connect with their children themselves.

Tammy changed all of that. I learned how to reserve my judgment until after I knew at least part of a child’s story. Some of them had a mother or father in prison, while others had mothers who were deceased. Like Tammy, some were being raised by their grandparents, while others were being shuttled from house to house in the foster care system.

They say that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Tammy came into my life to teach me compassion. Looking back, I’m happy to have played such a significant role in these kids’ lives. All of my children and their friends have reached that adult milestone of 18, and many of the kids still see me as a surrogate mother, of sorts. They take me to out to eat, and invite me over for Christmas dinner when I’m in town. I have also earned the title of “Grandma Lisa,” to more grandchildren than I can count.

They say that parenting locks you in for 18 years, but I say it’s like serving 25 years to life. Once a mother, always a mother, even if you didn’t birth the child.

Co-Parenting Matters This Week: Happy Parents…Happy Kids!

February 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

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“…I accept full responsibility for my life and my choices — I sing no victim songs.

I willfully participate in the world using my voice to empower myself and others.”


Yvonne Bynoe, founder Sophisticated Woman and Mama

Yvonne Bynoe, founder Sophisticated Woman and Mama

Okay, if ever there was a credo to live by, Yvonne Bynoe’s is it.  The above is an excerpt from Yvonne’s credo, the guiding principle for her life and for the lives that she helps other women realize for themselves.

Yvonne, an author and a mom, founded Sophisticated Woman and Mama to “to assist Gen-X working mothers who want to end their work/life struggle. Instead of trying to balance their various roles I encourage them to first define their beliefs and values. This step helps working women to make decisions that are aligned with their individual versions of professional and family success. My philosophy is that women who continue to develop themselves bring more clarity to their roles as mothers, partners and professionals.”

We are so excited to have Yvonne join us on the Sunday, February 14th* “Co-Parenting Matters” show, “Happy Parents, Happy Kids.” On the show, we’ll talk about the importance of all co-parents healing and empowering themselves in the wake of a break up, and in particular, Yvonne will discuss her mission to“revolutionize motherhood” so that all women have “the courage to create a life and a motherhood experience that they passionately love.”

As always, “Co-Parenting Matters” airs 9:30 – 11 PM EST on BlogTalk Radio.

On the show, we’ll announce the winners of a special offer that Yvonne is making available to CoParenting101.org and WeParent.com readers!  One winner from each site will win a COMPLIMENTARY Working Moms Startup Coaching Session with Yvonne. The session will include:

  • The “Where Are You” Questions
    – a meaningful inquiry into your life and aspirations.
  • A thirty-minute laser coaching discussion

In your session with Yvonne, you can:

  • Chart a course to accomplishing a specific goal
  • Design the framework for your ideal life – maximizing the things that bring you joy and fulfillment and reducing the draining “shoulds.”
  • Create strategies to overcome limiting beliefs.

Yvonne will help you see what’s possible – and laser in on the best course of action for you based on your interests, values and intentions. Yvonne says, “Working Moms Startup sessions could result in a new decision for your life, inspire a make-over, generate a new business idea, or expose your inner critic…stay open to the possibilities.”

If you are ready to create your ideal life, or know a mother who is, don’t miss this valuable opportunity!  Here’s how to enter  in 2 easy steps:

(1) Email us at info AT weparent DOT com nominating yourself or another working mom for the complimentary start up session, then LEAVE A COMMENT HERE telling us you’ve submitted the nomination. Explain why you (she) should win the session, and how it can make a difference in your (her) life.

Then…

(2) Send a short email to Yvonne AT Sophisticatedwomanandmama DOT com containing the same info as in (1).

(3) Yvonne will choose one winner from each site.

(4) Winners will be announced during “Happy Parents, Happy Kids.”

Enter today and get one step closer to a happier you…which means, a happier kid!

*“Co-Parenting Matters” will take a brief break from the airwaves on Super Bowl Sunday February 7th…for the obvious reasons.


Black History Month Giveaway: Family Passes to “Let Your Motto Be Resistance”

February 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

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Let your motto be resistance!  Resistance!  RESISTANCE!
No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.

–Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet, 1843

Resistance has been a critical theme throughout the history of Black families in this country.  It has taken many forms.  For some, survival by itself was an act of resistance.  For others, it looked like fighting back…or not fighting back.  And, for many, it was the commitment to celebrating our history and culture even when the cost was torture or death.

At WeParent, we believe that building strong, healthy, effective co-parenting relationships is an act of resistance against the forces that pull our children away from us–as much as it is an act of love.  Through our commitment to partnering in parenting, we give our children the foundation they need to stand strong in this world.  And, to us, raising strong, happy, powerful Black children is a revolultionary act all by itself.  So, we’re all about resistance through a co-parenting revolution.

On January 30, 2010, the Atlanta History Center will celebrate the opening of a new exhibition, Let Your Motto Be Resistance:  African-American Portraits which runs through April 25th. Let Your Motto Be Resistance is the first of four exhibitions being present as part of the Center’s Civil War to Civil Rights series.  The exhibit, inspired by the call to action of nineteenth century political activist and Underground Railroad conductor, Henry Highland Garnet, uses portraits of well-known African-Americans from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to trace 150 years of U.S. history.  These powerful images celebrate the diverse ways that African-Americans creatively and courageously redefined the history of this country through struggle, accomodation and resistance.

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As part of our celebration of Black History Month, we’re partnering with the Atlanta History Center to give away family passes to Let Your Motto Be Resistance to four lucky WeParent readers.  Passes are good for free admission for 2 adults and up to 4 children (a $74 value.)  We’ll choose a new winner each week during the month of February.  So, if you don’t win this week, your entry is still in the hat for the next one.  Winners will be announced every Sunday during Black History Month and notified via email.  Here’s how to enter:

MANDATORY:

  • Leave a comment here either suggesting a way for parents to celebrate Black History Month with their children, telling us how you’re planning to celebrate with yours or just sharing a few words about an historic figure who inspires you.

OPTIONAL:

That’s 4 chances to win!  Don’t miss this opportunity to share this glimpse into African-American and U.S. history with your family.  We’ll see you there!

Preparing Our Kids to THRIVE in the 21st Century

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

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The world our kids will inherit is far different from the one we were born into.

Back when I was born, most TVs were still in black and white. There was no cable tv, no fax machines, microwave ovens, or personal computers.  People held jobs for years, if not lifetimes. And they often retired with pensions…unless, like my grandmother, they were cheated out of them by being laid off just before they’d reached the 20- or 30-year mark. (But that’s a different story.)

Our kids are being born into a world of rapid change. Product choices, investment options, job descriptions, even “proven facts,” can become obsolete every 6 months.  To prosper in the 21st century, our children need more than just computer skills. They need to be able to hold their own – emotionally, financially, and socially.  They need to be ready to ride the waves of change. They need an internal GPS and a lighthouse, so they don’t get lost in a storm. And they need an anchor to mark the place they call “home.”

Along with a solid education and good manners, here are a few other tools to properly equip today’s kids for tomorrow’s world:

Skills Every Child Needs to T.H.R.I.V.E. in the 21st Century

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX — Kids these days need to be able to do more than memorize facts.  Thinking critically and creatively will help them rise to every new challenge they’ll face.

Foster kids’ creativity with “What if…” questions – What would you do if you needed to open a can and couldn’t find a can opener? What might happen if you jump off the sofa with that coffee table sitting there?

Above all, don’t punish them when they DO think creatively…and end up doing something you don’t like. Like, let’s say, tie-dying the cat so it doesn’t camouflage with the living room carpet. Instead, recognize their creativity, but guide them toward a more useful application.

HEAL — The world can be a sick place – physically and emotionally. We can’t control the world, but we can control ourselves.

Teach kids how to keep themselves healthy and strong – in spite of what happens in the world around them – by building up their immune systems. (Again, physically, and emotionally.)

Physically: Who knows if there will be any affordable health care when our kids are grown? The best guarantee of good health is eating real food – especially fruits and veggies – cooked at home with real ingredients – not chemicals, colors, and preservatives. Healthy food creates a healthy immune system – helping your body heal and fight disease from the inside out.

Emotionally: Encourage kids to name their feelings. Ask them often, “How did you feel when that happened?” Their honest emotions can be an internal GPS, guiding them to stay away from danger, or to speak up when they don’t like something. Respect their right to have feelings different from yours. Don’t shut them down. The more kids know themselves, and the more they learn to express feelings their feelings verbally, the more self-disciplined they can be.

RESOLVE CONFLICTS – In friendships, at school, in job situations…knowing how to resolve conflicts productively is an invaluable social skill.

Teach kids to listen to another’s point of view as well as calmly express their own. Ask, “How could this be handled in a way that respects everybody?”

DON’T HIT. Hitting kids teaches them that physical violence is ok to use when you’re upset. It also fosters anger, resentment, and low self-esteem – none of which promotes healthy conflict management.

After a conflict, ask, “How’d you feel about the way things went? What might you do differently next time?”

INITIATE – The days of being an “employee” are over.

Even if you’re employed by someone, you’ve gotta think like an entrepreneur to make yourself indispensable. Rather than passively waiting for an employer to tell you what to do, you’ve got to have initiative – think independently, come up with new ideas.

Help kids build their “initiative muscles” by letting them make some decisions for the family: Put them in charge of Saturday night’s menu; let them come up with a way to fix the wobbly kitchen chair.

When they complain about something, ask them what they would do to make it better. Then let them implement their ideas.

VERIFY ALL CLAIMS – Don’t let kids fall into the trap of believing every so-called “authority.” They will be marketed to, relentlessly, by politicians and advertisers – many of whom will not share the whole truth.

Teach kids to use the internet and other resources to find facts and opinions that contradict what they hear. Encourage them to look within themselves and decide whom to believe.

EMPATHIZE WITH OTHERS – Not being able to accept another’s perspective is the primary cause of war – both globally and domestically.

Teach your kid to BE PEACE by learning to respect other people’s opinions, feelings, and desires.

Help them learn to hold two opposing perspectives – their own, and another person’s – and to treat others not as they would like to be treated, but as the other would like to be treated.

* * *

Kids who learn to Think, Heal, Resolve, Initiate, Verify, and Empathize, stay in-tuned with themselves and others.

They are anchored by close relationships over time, even as they re-invent themselves and relocate every few years.

They are guided by strong values that always lead them on the right course.

And they know how to change direction to navigate the winds of change.

Fatherhood Freestyle: You Are the Prize

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Fatherhood Freestyle

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This post was inspired by the recent “Co-Parenting Matters” show on “Dads Raising Daughters” as well as my recent move from one coast to the other.

So, my daughter has been walking to school with one particular “friend” from our neighborhood since school began. We’ll call her, “Sarah” for the sake of anonymity. Well, around 7:15AM a few Mondays ago, my daughter sent Sarah the customary text to determine the logistics for the morning’s plans. When she responded “I can’t walk today,” I made the decision to drive my daughter to school myself. As we sat in the school parking lot waiting for the doors to open, I casually asked why her friend couldn’t walk. She shrugged her shoulders, explaining that Sarah “doesn’t speak” to her anymore.

Wait. Wait. Wait. Rewind.

She doesn’t speak to her anymore? How about all the back-and-forth texts? And her smile when I drop my daughter off every morning? No sooner than she’d said this, we looked ahead and there was Sarah walking up the hill…by herself. My daughter pulled out her phone to confirm she had read the text correctly, and disappointingly stated, “That’s what she said.” I immediately got that visceral feeling that overcomes every parent when they think someone has hurt their kid, regardless of that person’s age.

While we sat in the car waiting for the school’s doors to open, I decided it was time to press the issue a little. My daughter explained that Sarah had given some kids in the classroom necklaces, but not her. She told me Sarah sometimes didn’t even speak to her in school despite their having walked together just that morning. My daughter said Sarah called her “sooo annoying” and had recently been very mean to her. My blood, a raging 212 degrees Farenheit at this point was about to explode into a wicked headache. I tried my damnedest not to show my frustration, because I didn’t want her to pick up that this bothered me and (possibly) decide against sharing these kinds of stories in the future out of concern I would be hurt.

Convinced I had already heard enough, I let her finish telling the story anyway. I knew my daughter wanted that relationship, even though it probably didn’t feel good to her. I felt she was sticking around, because she didn’t see any better alternative. She had plenty of other good friendships from before, so she probably thought she’d easily find them here. After all, she had never experienced being the new girl in the new neighborhood in the new school on a different coast. Honestly, I may have underestimated these challenges myself. Given the recent transition, I knew she really wanted to be accepted and would be willing to try her hardest to make that happen, even if it meant forgetting her own strength and value. The whole discussion actually reminded me so much of those I’ve had with adult women about their own friendships and romantic relationships throughout the years. All I could see was my own daughter ten or fifteen years from now…and I refused to let this teachable moment pass without my sending a powerful message.

After she finished, I started to teach (or was it venting?). I told her she didn’t need to pursue ANY relationship where she was not equally pursued. I told her she was a good friend and needed to find friends who reciprocated. I explained to her that making new friends quickly wasn’t as important as making good friends. I even told her most people are lucky to have just five or so true friends in life. I explained that she should want friends who value her friendship, and that she should never settle for less. This probably lasted for a good half hour. She opened the car door after the school doors opened and gave me a hug. As she was leaving, I told her to look around, and I said, “Remember, YOU and your friendship are the prize.” She nodded her head, sighed, and left.

All day, I kept wondering if I had said the right thing. I was completely unproductive at work, calling friends left and right to see if they could help me wrap my head around the whole situation. I was consumed. Did she pick up on my anger? Was she listening to or even understanding what I had said? Was I being too protective and not just allowing her to ride it out naturally (with less overt support)? Should I pull her from the school if things didn’t improve? Would I continue the conversation later at home? Or maybe I was just blowing this whole thing out of proportion.

By the time I got home, I had already decided I would drop subtle nuggets of wisdom here and there instead of continuing to explicitly reference the situation. However, later that evening, my daughter spontaneously said to me, “Dad, Sarah told me a few days ago that she was going to buy me a Christmas present.” I calmly asked if Sarah had spoken to her throughout the day, and she responded, “No.” I wanted to make sure she wasn’t getting her hopes up too high. Plus, I had mixed feelings about her accepting a gift from Sarah. However, I wanted to leave the decision up to her, so I asked her whether she intended to accept it. She shot back forcefully, “I don’t know, but even if she gives me one, I am not getting her one!” Although it was her decision to make, I insisted she consider the message she would be sending either way. “If you really do not want to be her friend, do you really think it’s cool to take a gift from her?”

She went on to say that how Sarah had been acting was not nice, how she didn’t appreciate it and didn’t want to be her friend anymore. In fact, she told me that if the girl did not apologize and tried to talk to her, she would simply say, “Wait! What is that buzzing sound in my ear?” She stated she could make friends with other kids, and she no longer wanted to walk with Sarah. (Of course, she didn’t know I’d already made arrangements with the boss to go in late, so I could bring her to school myself.)  Surprised at this new energy and spirit, I was smiling as I asked her where all this was coming from. She looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes and said, “Remember Daddy, I am the prize.”

Staying Close to Your Kids…from a Distance

December 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

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Our family uses a pretty evenly split parenting time schedule to ensure that our son spends time with both parents on a weekly basis and that we both have hands-on intimate involvement in all aspects of his life.  So, we both get to spend time with him regularly.  Still, when he’s away from me, the truth is, I miss him and I want him to know that even when we’re apart, I’m still loving him.

I imagine that I’m not the only one, so here are a few suggestions for maintaining a connection with your children while you’re away from them:

  • Use a mix of scheduled and spontaneous contact. Scheduled contact should be agreed upon by both parents.  It should be at regular times and be convenient for everyone involved.  You might be missing your child, but you aren’t doing him, her or your co-parent any favors by disrupting breakfast, dinner or bedtime.  So, work this out up front.  Similarly, spontaneous contact is nice, but, again, work with your co-parent to ensure that your calls are not disruptive or too frequent.

  • Go online with email and internet-based tools for connecting. Be sure to teach your children online safety.  And, you may want to consider using a tool specifically to keep families connected.

  • Give your children their own phone line. Two kid-centric cell phone companies we’re aware of are Firefly and Kajeet.  If you go with this option, be prepared to establish rules on acceptable cell phone use and to teach your children cell-iquette and safety.  And, ideally, get buy-in from your co-parent.  If you and your child’s other parent don’t communicate or consistently have high-conflict contact, this may be a great option.

  • Schedule an off-time date. If you are apart from your children for extended periods, consider a periodic dinner or a coffee…well, orange juice, date to break things up.  Coordination with your child’s other parent is key, as is adhering strictly to agreed upon pick-up and drop-off times.

  • Keep a “Thinking About You” journal. Don’t just think about your children, write a note, paste photos, add newspaper clippings…whatever helps you chronicle and illustrate just how much you’re thinking about them.  During their next stay with you, share.

  • Create a letter writing kit…for both of you. Purchase a notebook, a keepsake box, stickers, colored pencils, etc. and teach your children the lost art of letter writing.  You’ll not only create a special activity that just the two of you share, you’ll both collect wonderful keepsakes to go along with the memories.

  • Give your child a personalized gift that s/he can touch, feel and/or hear on a daily basis to remind them that you care. Some options might be: a locket, special box, stuffed animal or just a specially framed photo of the two of you.

These are just a few options, but there are so many more.  Be creative, allow your children to inspire you and take the lead in staying connected.  Our children need to be reminded that even when we’re apart, our hearts and minds remain with them.

This Week on Co-Parenting Matters: Dads Raising Daughters

December 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured Podcast, Podcast

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Join us on “Co-Parenting Matters” this Sunday at 9 PM EST for a candid chat with two single dads about raising daughters. Our guests will be RJ Jaramillo, founder of SingleDad.com (who joined us for last Sunday’s lively conversation about “Sex and the Single Parent”), and Whitney Yakini Traylor, attorney, author, and Fatherhood Freestyler at WeParent.com.

And finally, because it never, ever gets old…

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