I have been divorced for almost 11 years and learning how co-parenting works with my ex has not been without its challenges, but we’ve managed to succeed. I want to just share with you today some of the hardships, complications, tips and successes that we’ve experienced. I hope that you can take some of what we’ve done and apply it to your own Re-Defined Family.
I know in this age there is so much mom shaming, parent shaming, all sorts of shaming going on. It’s exhausting. One reoccurring theme that I’ve seen is parents who spoil their kids or always put them first above their own needs. Let’s be clear, this blog is not about that. As a single parent, you’re going to have needs and making sure your own needs are met and you’re happy is not a selfish thing. It’s making sure that you’re taken care of so that you can take care of your family. Schedule that massage, sign up for that dance class, make your own sacred space where you meditate and do yoga. I don’t care what it is, just make sure that you take care of you.
Co-Parenting is What is Best for Them
That being said, let’s talk about Children First. What I mean by that is this; your children didn’t choose a divorce, you and your partner did. They’re bystanders in this whole process so using them as a weapon is not an option. One more time for those in the back row- USING YOUR CHILDREN AS A WEAPON TO GET BACK AT YOUR EX IS NOT AN OPTION. Got it? Good. The basics that your children need from you are; a place to live/eat/etc , emotional support and stability and stuff like acceptance and guidance.
The number one, thing they don’t need? To hear you bash the only other person on this planet that they love as much as they love you; their other parent. You absolutely must put aside your differences and relearn how to parent together. Call it complimentary parenting or co-parenting, but you need to get good at it. It’s not always easy, and there are times when compromise is needed, but it can be done. Involve an unbiased third party if you need to. This can help with the initial transition.
Find A Common Goal
When my ex and I started co-parenting, we sat down and talked about what our parenting goals were. They covered many things like sports, music lessons, and even dating, but our number one goal was to provide a safe home for our children and be consistent between our homes. We started having monthly Parent-Parent conferences to make sure we were consistent. If someone got grounded on my watch, it carried over to my ex’s house. There were times when we had big incidents, and we would sit and talk about how we were going to handle them, what was appropriate, what wasn’t. Our kids learned very quickly that “Well, that’s not how it is at dad’s house.” Didn’t fly.
It hasn’t always been easy, there have been arguments and at times, we’ve had to work on our own issues before we can address kid stuff. But we kept reminding ourselves that we were redefining family. We didn’t stop being a family because we moved to separate houses, we are still a family and we work on that new relationship every day!