What we do
In the simplest terms, we show separated and divorced parents how to build their better futures by focusing on meeting their children's needs.
We charge nothing, and our only hope is that increasing numbers of parents and professionals will see the overwhelming advantages of abandoning the idea of separation and divorce as disputes in favor of a truly child-focused way forward.
Those goals are easier stated than accomplished, but we take a lot of joy and draw encouragement from grateful parents we hear from every day.
Why we do it
Two sets of life experiences took us into this campaign.
First, in our professional work (Barb's as a therapist and mine as a criminal defense attorney) we were concerned with what was leading so many young people into problems with delinquency, drug and alcohol experimentation, academic disengagement, depression and other emotional problems.
Barb helped me see that we'd never turn these children's fortunes if we didn't address the chaos and conflict in their lives, including the chaos and conflict that came from mishandled instances of divorce, separation, and paternity matters.
Second, Barb and I have had our own divorces. For all the financial and other struggles that come with divorce, we've enjoyed two decades of excellent "co-parenthood," "co-grandparenthood," and even friendships with our former mates. And that all started with the natural benefits of the child-focused approach we want to show others.
More meaningful than the several professional awards our work has received is the flood of enthusiastic feedback—and outstanding suggestions—from parents. That feedback and those suggestions have proved time and again that, when parents are shown the option, they most often want to spare their children from devastating chaos and conflict much more than they want to continue seeing their relationships as personal or legal disputes to be fought.
Dr. Kylea Asher-Smith
Judge Michael Scopelitis
While it's gratifying that our resources have helped over 200,000 people, we've expanded our vision to include assisting interested parents in becoming voices of encouragement (including through social media) for other parents dealing with the challenges of separation or divorce.
We're fortunate to have been joined by Senior Judge Michael Scopelitis who assists in both the ongoing development of the content of UpToParents.org and the video presentation of that content. Judge Scopelitis has over 40 years' experience with family cases, almost 20 of those years as a judge on the St. Joseph Superior Court in South Bend, Indiana. He has been widely recognize in our state for his leadership in trying to improve services to families dealing with separation and divorce, including in his service as chair of the Domestic Relations Committee of the Indiana Judicial Conference.
In 2014, Barb and I scored perhaps our greatest success. We convinced our daughter Dr. Kylea Asher-Smith to take over the leadership of UpToParents.org. Kylea is an experienced educator with a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and a doctoral minor in Human Development. Her training and experience make her a unique resource both in keeping children's interests paramount in UpToParents.org and ensuring that parents under serious stress have the best help possible to embrace ways of succeeding for their children and themselves. Barb and I now feel we work for the best demanding boss anywhere.
Our team looks forward to the time America will replace the talk of these matters as cases, conflicts, and disputes--and speak instead of them as calls to build peace and success in families by prioritizing children's needs.