There is much debate about whether sharing parenting responsibilities with your ex is a good thing or not. I mean how do you get past the fact that he’s a jerk, is selfish, cheated on you, blah, blah, blah?
I think if both parents are at least considered sane then co-parenting is a viable alternative to being the lone ranger parent. We could use the help; after all, you didn’t make that baby by yourself right?
The Best Solution for the Kid
The thing about co-parenting for me is that it’s the best thing for kids. Parents who are not together, for one reason or another, owe it to the children they brought into this world to find a way to be actively involved in their kids lives.
The kids didn’t ask to come into this world and didn’t ask to be in the middle of drama. They deserve the love and security of both parents. The nurture of a mother and protection of a father is something they deserve to know.
There is much evidence to prove that kids need to see and know both parents. I won’t get into all the details but I will just say that BOTH parents are vitally important in a child’s life.
Some Just Aren’t Qualified But…
It’s true that some parents are pretty screwed up and their kids are better off without them but, if it is possible, it is important that both parent rise to the occasion, suck up their issues, and put aside their selfishness for the sake of their child.
My Experience (YMMV)
My co-parenting situation is incredible to some and downright sick to others (those are the people with issues). Considering that all situations are different, it’s important to note that what works for me may not work for you. You are welcome to try what I do and have done, but please find the method that works for you.
When our daughter was born I told her father that I wanted him to be a part of her life. I did not always appreciate his presence but it was wrong for me to deny our child a relationship with her dad. So from the time she was almost two years old he’s taken some time to visit her and get to know her. Because of he lived in another state by then visits weren’t regular but he made the effort. We talked about her milestones and any issues she may have had. I sent him pictures and he wrote letters occasionally.
Make Parenting Work
It wasn’t perfect but we put forth the effort to make being her parents work. There were times when I had to address my concerns in areas I felt he was neglecting. I did it in such a way to ensure that our daughter always benefitted. As she got older we coordinated our schedules so she could visit with him during the summer and holidays. I even went so far as to meet him halfway a couple of times so they could both have memories. Some may say I went a little too far, but nothing was too far or too good for our child.
Before each visit he’d ask me if there were any rules or routines I had established in my house that he should be aware of. From what she ate to the time she went to bed was a matter of importance to him because he didn’t want to break her routine. We wanted to make sure that she understood that going to dad’s house was not a trip to Disneyland. She was going to her other parent’s house where she would still be keeping the same rules and following the same routines. This established a sense of normalcy and security for her and made the transition easier for him because he could plan effectively.
Careful What You Say (or Don’t Say)
Because I wanted to foster a good relationship between father and daughter I made it a personal rule to never speak ill of him. I also refused to build him up as a super hero but instead remained neutral and gave her the facts in a way she could understand. She would eventually get to know him and form her own opinion.
This has worked out in everyone’s favor because now she is fully able to see his goodness and his flaws without interference from me. She now has a realistic view of him and can love him regardless of any perceived imperfection.
Communication is Key
At the time of this writing, he is in Iraq and still in an active co-parenting role. He is able to communicate with her via instant messenger, email, letters, webcam, and voice chat. As she enters the teen yeas his presence is even more important. This communication right now is paramount to her development into a secure young lady.
He and I are also in constant communication about her life changes. We discuss her current mood swings, what’s happening at school, how she’s maturing, and any issues that he needs to personally address. I also share information about the school she’s attending, make sure he’s on the list of important people, and provide log-in information for her grades online.
A Necessary Partnership
Parenting is definitely a partnership. We’ve had to set aside our person biases and emotions for the sake of our daughter. It’s our job to prepare her for adulthood and make sure she is successful in the transition. We may not always agree on parenting methods but we do agree that talking about it is the quickest way to resolve any issues we may have.
Co-parenting seem impossible for you and your circumstances my not allow for it at this time, but if you are able to work it out because you see the importance of parental balance, give it a try. It requires cooperation from both parties with the goal in mind of having a healthy and well-adjusted child.
Here are a couple of blog resources to help get you started: