By peoplestaff225
Updated June 02, 2009 01:30 PM
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When the marriage between Russell Simmons and fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons ended, the couple who had lived their lives in the spotlight were faced with the media trail through a public divorce. Fortunately, despite a few bumps along the way — mainly custody arrangements — the pair managed to stay friendly during the ordeal, all as a result of keeping quiet, says Russell. “It’s okay if you’re separate and can be quiet, but it’s a mess if you talk,” he tells OK!.

To that end, the 51-year-old only has the highest praise for his ex-wife when it comes to raising their daughters Ming Lee, 9, and Aoki Lee, 6 ½. While staying in the Hamptons with both girls, an opportunity presented itself for Ming to meet “one of the celebrities who runs around,” but after running the idea past his daughter, the proud papa reports the offer was immediately turned down. “[Ming] said, ‘No, no, I think she makes bad choices,'” he shares. “That, to me, reminded me that their mother has been doing such a good job with them because she knows what’s a good choice already.”

Determined to raise “very cultured” little girls, Russell admits that Ming — in addition to yoga, playing the piano, and studying French and Italian — enjoys traveling the globe, visiting Africa and Paris, with her mama. “She’s learned a lot about a lot to be so young,” he states. That said, Russell has also been known to throw quite the birthday bash for the girls! For Aoki’s birthday celebration last year, the doting dad pulled out all the stops for a Little Mermaid themed party. “All kinds of toys were in my backyard and all kinds of friends,” he recalls.

Of fatherhood, Russell reveals that his greatest joy is watching his two girls finding their way in the world, all the while teaching him a thing or two about life! “The way young people think, you want to think like them so they teach you a lot. Having a child teaches you so much,” he says.

Source: OK!

— Anya