I am intrigued by the development of www.divorcecare.com, "divorce recovery support groups," and wondering if there are ways I might work with this organization or movement, bringing my expertise in using the tools of technology to help parents and kids remain close despite divorce.
As someone who went through a divorce 20 years ago (my ex and I separated in 1986), I know what a traumatic and painful experience it is, and yet I have a lot of perspective. Divorce is one of the most challenging and life-changing experiences "a person of faith" can go through. I also have the perspective of a long-standing marriage -- my wife and I married in 1991, and have some knowledge and experience of step-families, blended families, adoptive families, and how technology if not regulated can overwhelm family life. Our youngest is now 10 years old, and if left entirely to his own devices, would spend far too much time playing computer games.
I couldn't be prouder of how my son Matthew, now 23, has turned out, despite all the early worries and conflict from the divorce. I know that's also how his mother feels, and at this stage, it's all that matters.
Not everyone is so lucky, and if I can help lighten their load a little from my own experience, I'd like to try to help.
In 1994, shortly after Matthew and his mother, with my permission, moved from the town where we had co-parented for eight years, I embarked on a very difficult journey, to write about and to try to bring positive meaning to my experience of divorce, and 500-mile separation from my son. I wanted to offer hope to other people I knew were in pain and to reassure them that they could continue close relationships with their children (or parents) even if they didn't live together under the same roof.
I dove deeply into the Internet as a way to communicate with my son. I wrote about my experiences as a "virtual dad" beginning in 1995 for The Washington Post. I wrote additional pieces for The Post through 2004 and commentary for National Public Radio. I created a web site in 1996 for "virtual families." I joined Michael Gough in promoting www.internetvisitation.org, and in pushing a legislative campaign to give families the legal right to engage in virtual visitation. I've made presentations and media appearances in multiple states.
This blog, "Together While Apart" (www.togetherwhileapart.com) is the latest effort to reach out creatively not only to families of divorce but to senior citizens and others who can use new technologies to stay well connected to their families and friends. Much of the material here may be useful and relevant to members of the "divorce recovery support groups" and to visitors to www.divorcecare.com. -- Jim Buie