To talk about us requires a peek into our family, and I'm always afraid that families who speak well of themselves publicly (even if entirely truthfully) are destined for conflict themselves. Our website developer, however, tells me that I owe it to those using our websites to say something about the people and motivations behind them. For that reason alone, I share this snapshot of who we are.
My partner (in both marriage and our websites) is Barb. She's perfect. Enough said. Just know that's not me talking, everyone says so. Over the past few years we've both eased out of our former careers (social work and counseling for Barb, trial law for me) and into our family charity. Every piece of wisdom on the sites has come from or been vastly improved by Barb.
It was in the course of mediation work with parents that we began developing what has evolved into the Commitments and Exercises on these websites. Our original purpose was merely to use them with the couples coming to our office. But we soon found the materials virtually indispensable in reminding parents how focusing on their children's needs can help their children and themselves alike.
After perhaps fifty versions, Barb and I were persuaded by enough colleagues from both our professions that these materials deserved wider circulation. Wanting them to be available to any interested parents, judges, lawyers, counselors, or mediators, we launched these websites.
Carole Streeter (our local author, editor, and project coordinator for our family foundation) has blessedly made sure that the materials on the websites enjoy some general connection with the English language. Along the way she learned us good English.
Writer/director/videographer Jon Parmater joined us in mid-2002, just in time to write a campaign to share word about the websites. If you heard about these sites before owning a hydrogen-powered car, it was likely due to Jon.
Harriett King is our most recent recruit. Harriette specializes in undaunted perseverance in supporting what we do--even when we maybe should be stopped.
Two concessions are in order.
First, we owe a never-to-be-satisfied debt to many dozens of friends, judges, lawyers, counselors, mediators, and (most of all) parents in their own pain for irreplaceable contributions to these materials. (I'm reminded here of the legal adage, "If you steal another lawyer's work, it's plagiarism; if you steal a hundred lawyers' work, it's research.")
Second, neither we nor these websites have ever protected a distressed child. Parents do. We've never sheltered a child from conflict, put aside resentments to make room for cooperation, or shifted a family's focus from a painful past to a brighter future. If there is value in anything we have done, it's grounded in an awareness that nothing compares to the unleashed courageous love of parents for their children.
What I think we have done is to collect and organize some painfully accumulated wisdom of many devastated parents and children. To that wisdom we've tried to add the best practical guidance we've read and heard from thoughtful professionals who have somehow avoided thinking they are the answer for these families.
Whatever good sense we've absorbed has come to us without charge. It has enriched us, and so we offer it here without charge to anyone. These materials are an unprotected work product for everyone's use.
We dedicate this effort to all parents who heroically put their children's needs first. And to Bonnie, Kylea, Jeff, Steve, and Doug--for surviving so beautifully our mistakes.