Hey guys! I’ve gotten a few comments and questions regarding our family situation. A few people have even asked for the best advice I would give when it comes to keeping a positive co-parenting relationship. I’m certainly no expert, and the only personal experience I have with co-parenting dates back just 5 years. So with that being said, I will try my very best to give (what I think are some of the best) tips and advice on the topic.
As many of you know, we are a blended family. I use the term “blended family” over “split household” or “step family” because I absolutely loathe those terms. I mean seriously? What is a “split household” anyway? Moving on- here’s how our family works. “Technically speaking” Brian has Jayce (6) and I have Marek (5), but neither of us has ever referred to our children as “my son, your son” it’s “ours”. After all, we are both parents to both kids. Now that we’ve got the basic dynamics covered, we can move on to these pieces of advice. *Definitely take these at your own risk, what has worked for us will not work for everybody or for every situation.*
Put all previous relationship drama aside:
Everybody breaks up for a reason, and whether it be cheating, money, or just general differences in a relationship. HOWEVER, this now has NOTHING to do with the co-parenting stage in your life. Erase that issue from your mind, because if you are going into a co-parenting relationship with a hateful heart you are going to do nothing but harm your child in the long run. This stage of life is about your child, and has ZERO to do with you, your ex-partner, your in-laws, or anyone else for that matter. This is about your child and believe it or not they did not ask to be brought into this mess, so make this transition as easy as possible for everyone involved by leaving your personal feelings aside.
Now I will say that this part is not easy, and it definitely takes some growth and some work getting used to the idea of other people being around your child. It even takes some work getting used to the idea of giving your child up when you don’t want to, but as time goes on it becomes routine and feels slightly easier when you’re not fighting it. Give in to the process, trust the process.
Include your ex when it involves your child:
Whether it be doctor appointments, parent teacher conferences, school field trips, first days, dentist appointments, etc. More than likely you both won’t be able to go all of the time, but things work a lot more smoothly if everyone keeps everyone else in the loop on the schedules. Nobody likes being left out, especially when it has to do with their child. Let me tell you what, not inviting your baby daddy/baby mom to a school Christmas program doesn’t make them look like a bad parent as much as it makes you look like the immature, selfish, vindictive one. This took me a long time to get used to, but I’m getting better at communicating appointments and my plans with Marek to his dad. It definitely benefits the child when you realize and accept that you aren’t the only parent your child has. Jayce’s mom is definitely great at inviting us to things even when they are on her time which is a lot of fun for all of us. The past few years for Halloween whoever has Jayce invites the other set of parents to come trick-or-treating and that is a blast every time. The kids love see their parents getting along, and I think there is something to be said with easing their anxiety about having divorced/separated parents and families.
NEVER BAD MOUTH YOUR EX IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILD:
This should be a no brainer, but unfortunately there are so many people who do not heed this advice. This is like the unspoken rule that I think most people know when it comes to co-parenting. Plus, once your kid is old enough to hear and understand what you’re saying they are going to know that there is animosity between you and they will suffer from it. Just don’t be that guy. Or girl. Don’t do it, it’s tacky to be a jerk in a co-parenting situation. Remember that we are all supposed to be on the same team!
Communicate when it comes to your child:
Whether you like it or not you will have to communicate with your ex, like A LOT. Your child will have issues at daycare or school, or need help with various different things ranging in school work to behavior that needs to be addressed. Discussing with your child’s other parent on what you all plan to do is the best for all parties. KEEP IN MIND: IT IS OKAY TO NOT DO THINGS THE SAME AT BOTH HOUSEHOLDS. SAY IT WITH ME. I was once told by a lawyer that I cannot dictate what the father of my child does with my child at his house. As much as this sucks, it’s something that is best to accept early on since NOTHING will change this. If you ex wants to feed your child 6 candy bars before bed at night, they can. If you ex wants to let your kid BMX freestyle off of a cement half pipe, they can. Communicating that these things make you uncomfortable or worried is appropriate, but nothing good ever comes from telling your ex what they can and cannot do with your child.
At the end of the day with co-parenting, the best thing to be is patient and understanding. We are all in this together, we are all on the same team and rooting for the growth and prosperity of the same kid. If you put all of the hurt feelings and negative dating/marriage experiences aside it actually might end up working really well. Another thing to remember is to be like “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski:
Typically we only have about 18 years with our kids if we are some of the lucky ones, don’t spend it feuding with your ex. Get along (at least be civil), and may everything you do be in the best interest of your child.
Until next time.