Moms rule on O-Mama

Next time you're stuck in the checkout line, try this little game:

Every time you see the phrase "… lose the baby weight" on the cover of a parenting magazine, try substituting it with an actual problem. Now imagine the headlines:

"10 ways to … solve health care now!"

"Proven solutions to … rein in Wall Street greed!"

"Quick tips to … improve our nation's schools!"

Having fun yet? If so, log on to o-mama.com, a Web site launched by two moms from Southern California (one Republican and one Democrat) who want to get moms talking about — and solving — the issues of the day.

"We want to position moms as a constructive voice," says Debbie Devine, the Republican half of the duo. "Our kids are the future of our country, and we need to set a good example for them. Politicians can't do it; celebrities can't do it."

And that means discussing weightier matters than, well, weight. The site, launched in November, offers a mix of news articles, opinion pieces and discussion groups on everything from immigration to the environment to gun control to bullying.

Members can join an "interest group" and discuss topics within or select from a number of "hot button issues" and start chatting. Interest groups include Democratic moms, Republican moms, military moms, gay moms, single moms and stepmoms, among others. Hot button issues include terrorism, racism, religion, education, gay rights and more.

"We're trying to create a place where moms have an outlet," says Michelle Tingler, the Democratic co-founder. "If you only talk to people who have the exact same beliefs, you never learn anything new. We're trying to be less reactionary and more informative."

The posts are refreshingly diplomatic, no small matter when you consider the topics and the usually overheated pitch of the blogosphere.

"The level of discourse has been very erudite and civil," says Devine.

Devine, a divorced mom of two who voted for John McCain in 2008, and Tingler, married with three kids and an avid fan of President Barack Obama, don't see eye to eye on a lot of issues. But they cite their friendship as proof that moms can find common ground when it comes to improving the world for their kids.

"There have been plenty of times we've had to agree to disagree," says Devine. "But our country was founded on the ability to debate issues and listen to opposing viewpoints. It's what the framers (of the Constitution) had in mind. We can't lose sight of that, and moms have to be the example to bring it back."

Tingler, on that topic, concurs.

"Women have to lay down our issues and come together when it comes to raising our kids," she says. "If you don't like the spoiled brats on Wall Street, don't raise spoiled brats. Family is a testing ground for all the things going on in the world. It's not an easy job, but it's time to put on your big girl panties and deal with it."

hstevens@tribune.com

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