A mother and stepmother who parent together are hoping to inspire other blended families to move past disagreements and create conflict-free spaces for their children.
After years of not getting along, Paulina O'Kieffe and Sarah Drayton managed to forgive each other and work together to raise Drayton's biological child and O'Kieffe's step-child, Sherika.
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This past November, the pair started a co-parenting movement called "You, Me, and She." Through blog posts, social media, and a podcast, they offer tips and tricks for collaborating creatively and finding ways to put conflict aside.
"It's for the child," said Drayton on Metro Morning. "They see that positivity and it shows them how to react in the real world."
A rocky start
O'Kieffe entered Drayton's life when she got together with Drayton's ex and became a stepmother to Sherika six years ago. From the start, it was a relationship fraught with resentment.
"Issues started to develop," O'Kieffe said. "A lot of tension and spite started coming up."
"I wasn't receptive to what she was presenting at the time, because I was so young and immature. I took it as a threat," said Drayton.
Everything changed when O'Kieffe sent Drayton a card around Christmas in 2013, hoping it would be a "symbol of peace."
"When I received it, I was like, 'thank God,'" said Drayton. After turning the page together, Drayton and O'Kieffe began to actively collaborate, eventually coming up with the idea for "You, Me and She."
Pair pushing back on mom, stepmom stereotypes
On their website, Drayton and O'Kieffe answer reader questions and tackle issues like how to set healthy boundaries and avoid toxic patterns.
They pair also have a book in the works, scheduled to be released in 2017.
"It helped with our personal relationship, and our growth as adults," said Drayton. "When my daughter started seeing what we were doing, it started helping her development as well, and she started being more positive at school."
O'Kieffe said it was important to her to push back against the stereotypes around mothers and stepmothers.
"You have the crazy baby-mother stereotype, the evil queen stepmother stereotype, but there weren't narratives of people coming together and saying, let's do this together," she said.
You can read more about "You, Me, and She" here.