My Plain and Simple View on What Co-Parenting Is

Co-parenting to me is what I refer to when two parents are no longer residing in the same household, they have separated, divorced or just broke up having never been married, but they have children who bind them forever.

That is co-parenting. Two parents who have children who bind them forever. Plain -n- Simple.

All About Co-parenting, What is It?

I tend to look at co-parenting in very simple terms because after all, I have already been through 11 years of co-parenting my daughter and now about a couple years or so of co-parenting my boys. My ex husband and I resided in same household off and on after our divorce, but we aren’t here to talk about that.

So I have co-parenting for a lot of years and have already had the experiences that occur when one is attempting to share a child, remember a child is a human being, your child does not belong to you nor to the other parent.

A child is an individual with their own thoughts, their own feelings and should be felt as if those feelings are valid at all times.

Maybe the fact that I have more experience in the area of co-parenting leads me to have less tolerance for those who just cannot seem to get it right. One would think it’s not a difficult concept but then I remember back to the drama filled years of my daughter’s baby days and realize, well it takes time to get it just right. When there are hurt feelings between the ex’s that makes it more difficult to co-parent as well.

It takes a big person to be able to separate feelings of hurt from a failed relationship in order to focus on what matters after the fact; parenting your children together.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to co-parent with someone who makes personal jabs at you based on mistakes made during a relationship that is no longer a relationship. Once you two people become co-parents, all that matters is the children & raising them. A business-like arrangement will work best to allow the children to flourish in both parents homes now and into the future.

Co-parenting is all about agreeing to disagree, letting go of control; neither parent can control the rules or scenarios that occur at one household over the other, but each co-parent should encourage the children to respect both parents and respect the rules set forth in both homes.

Co-parenting is all about letting go …. being able to realize that your children may, at times, wish to see one parent over the other and that is okay. Children change almost daily and sometimes they feel the need for one parent over the other during various stages in their lives.

Co-parenting is about communication, the ability to stay on focus with kid-only topics and to work together to ensure both households, regardless of how you feel about the structure or rules set forth, are safe for the children and that if something does go wrong, both parents can discuss it without throwing personal jabs or having a screaming match over who is the better parent.

Co-parenting is about loving your children. Letting go of how the other parent may have hurt you or upset you and focusing strictly on the children.

Co-parenting isn’t easy, neither is parenting. Life isn’t easy, if it were, then there would be no real adventure, now would there be?

“Image courtesy of Rendeeplumia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

5 Ways to Survive Co-Parenting With a Miserable Ex

Everyone out there must know at least one person who having been divorced with kids is now sputtering under their breath because their ex has become a complete insane person since they started co-parenting or worse yet, they started co-parenting just fine until their ex moved on and then it was WWIII. Here are some no brainer, easy to follow tips to survive co-parenting with a miserable ex, more specifically when you have moved on happily in your own divorced parenting life;

5 Tips to Survive Co-Parenting with a Miserable Ex

 

  1. Communicate about Topics That Pertain to your Children Only – Treat your relationship with your ex as a business relationship; only items discussed on the agenda are those that pertain to the children. Be upfront about what topics are just simply off limits and do not engage in communication about them. Ever. Such as how each of you parents at your own home, neither co-parent can control rules at the other home, unless your children are in harms way.
  2. Do Not Feed into Personal Jab Comments Ever – If your ex is constantly trying to poke at you with personal jabs about things that have nothing to do with raising the children, ignore them. Do not jab back and don’t feed into any drama that your ex may be trying to create.
  3. Allow the Children to Love Both Parents and/or Step Parents – Do not allow your children to pay for the issues their parent is causing with you, let it roll off of your shoulders. As long as the ex isn’t manipulating or brainwashing your children, they will eventually learn who their parents are. Let the children determine each parents flaws or mistakes made on their own time. Be happy if your children are happy.
  4. Gather Information Where you Can Get it From – If your ex is so miserable that they cannot update you on report cards or daily status updates on events that should be told ahead of time or as they happen then go ahead and contact the school system so you can receive a mailed copy of all report cards and other important notices that your children receive {this goes for a non-residential parent}.
  5. Go off the Radar – At times the other parent is simply so miserable that you must go off the radar completely with them as a means to keep your sanity. This is a last resort option but sometimes a necessary one. Be part of your children’s lives but don’t have anything to do with the co-parent because if you are at this point then there is no way co-parenting will be beneficiary for either parent.

Raising children in a split home is never easy, the older the children are – the harder it is. Just breath and take one day at a time.

 

“Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

A New Chapter in my Life

My children have two different Dad’s, my first born and only daughter has one father that I was never married to and have not been in a relationship with since she was about 4 months old {she is now almost 11 years old}. Then my two sons who are now 4 and 6 were with my ex husband, we divorced in May of 2010 { I believe}  but lived together off and on among trying to make things work for our sons many a times until we finally realized enough was enough and it wasn’t something you can force to work. My ex husband and I co-parent great together, I consider him a great friend and he is a fantastic Daddy to our sons. Never though, have I met someone since being married then divorced from my son’s father that I would dream of moving onto a new chapter in my life with; that is up until about six months ago.

The sun was in our eyes, pardon the squinty, closed eyes.

The sun was in our eyes, pardon the squinty, closed eyes.

In all honesty, I sort of sabotaged the idea of ever really getting into a serious relationship, I was very stuck on being upset that my marriage didn’t work. I never, in a million years wanted to co-parent a child again, let alone two more children. Then it dawned on me one day, I really have been living in loneliness because I felt it was better to be alone than to try to move on and put myself out there for that right for me man. There is nothing wrong with me moving on in my life and being happy, actually it’s what will ultimately make my children happiest! I know this but it was still extremely difficult, part of me had this feeling that raising my sons in a co-parenting environment was just not going to work, I hate being away from my boys and I hate when my four year old asks “why can’t you and Daddy get along and live together”, that breaks my heart. Reality is though, their Dad and I Just don’t work and we tried with all our might. It was time for us both to move on in our lives and find that person who works for us. I happened to find that person back in late December when I met this man for a cup of coffee. {he takes coffee black by the way, icky}

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With Lee, my love, it was easy in a way to let down my guard, to just be happy. I fell head over heels in love with this man but it wasn’t an easy ride for either of us.  We both have our own little faults and imperfections from prior experiences in our lives but what we also have is the communication and appreciation for each other to speak about whatever comes up in our world. Our children are amazing and seem to work awesome together; he has a boy age 13 and a girl age 12. The girl gets along fantastic with my daughter and the boy, while he is a teen, does get along well with my two young sons. This has been a blessing all over and I wake up each day feeling a warmth in my heart to have been blessed to met this man one day for coffee because, without realizing it back then, it was a cup of coffee that would forever change my kids and my world.

This week we will be moving into a home together. His children are with him three weekends a month then with their Mom the rest of the time but they are still a huge part of our new blended family, and then there was seven is what I keep saying. So when you see me out and about smiling a big smile, this is why .. I finally let go and allowed myself to fall in love again with the help of watching how happy my children have become with our new blended family.

I am blessed. I am loved and I am grateful for this new chapter in my life. Cannot wait to share more about our move with you all. Remember, don’t keep your guard up in life, because once it’s let down you will see so many amazing things will go your way!

This Could Be The Hardest Part of Co-Parenting

The challenges that arise with co-parenting are plentiful, you see when you raise your children in a home where both parents reside then the fact that each parent is slightly or completely different can be balanced for the most part. Having a balanced household between Mom and Dad working together is amazing but when you take those same two parents, separate them and place children in the middle, all heck could break loose. It’s sometimes difficult for parents to step back and let the other parent do their thing without interfering, even in a household where two parents reside which means that is even more difficult when you realize you no longer have control over the rules placed in the other household while your children visit their other parent.

Co parentingIt can take a long time to adjust to both letting go of the fact that you have no control over rules in the other household combined with the fact that simply letting go of having your children away from you for a period of time. It’s an emotional ride when you start co-parenting for sure, but sometimes and I hope usually, things settle a bit. For me, co-parenting has been pretty simple but it wasn’t always that way. I had some difficult years where I couldn’t let go of the fact that I had zero say in who was around my kids, what rules were placed in the father’s household and mostly just had a hard time being away from the kids. It wasn’t an easy path to walk but I simply reminded myself that their Dad’s love them as much as I do. I had to let go and trust that they would make the right decisions that they felt were best for our kids and never knowingly put the kids in harms way.

The thing I see more often than not with co-parenting is this power struggle; one parent believes they are in control of everything and have the say to tell the other parent when, where and why. That is why the court system has this lovely thing called a Parenting Plan. The Parenting Plan is a legal binding document that sets forth when, where and how each parent shall spend time with the children. While I have an issue with this whole “let’s split the kids 50/50″ crap that NH plays a lot {and other states too}, most of the time the judge wishes to see that the children are spending equal or close to equal time with both parents. This helps alleviate the stress some children can have with going long periods of time without the other parent. Once the Parenting Plan has been put in place, there is little to negotiate because all of that occurred during the court battle, mediation and in a hearing. Once the legal system puts a Parenting Plan in place and states “this is how it is” then both co-parents and any children involved must oblige whether they like it or not.

Of course, as with any law, there are exceptions. Let’s say the Parenting Plan won’t work because “something came up” maybe a business trip or something, well then the parents can work together to negotiate something that helps each of them continue on in their own separate lives while working to share time with the children so that the other can work or travel or attend a family thing that the children cannot attend. If you are co-parents who cannot even speak to each other without one or the other jumping down the throat and swearing and causing a big scene then unfortunately the only people who are losing with this type of situation are the children.

Believe it or not children are extremely resilient and get over situations that they may not like, may not understand or are stressful. In other words, kids get over crap faster than most adults do. I swear. So if you or a friend is co-parenting with a lot of resistance from the other parent to work together and form a Parenting Plan that 1st benefits the children and 2nd benefits each parent having a life aside from parenting, then maybe they should meet a mediator, go to a family counselor or utilize any outside sources to help open their eyes to what this situation is doing to their children. After all, once two parents are in a co-parenting situation nothing matters except the children from that point forward.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Co-Parenting Advice Leaves me Saying Use Common Sense

Parents Hold Childs Hand ForeverThe situations I run into being the advisory panel for in this journey called life is co-parenting. Co-parenting is pretty straight forward to me and believe me I do not care so much for both guys I co-parent with every moment of our co-parenting lives, but I am sure they have those moments they feel the same about me. Honestly, co-parenting in general is all about give & take as well as coming back down to Earth from your own selfish cloud you live on, to be adults for your children. It’s a really simple practice called “common sense”, if you use common sense and realize that you and your ex are no longer in a relationship so all that matters is that the children are leading  a positive life then co-parenting gets to be a breeze for all involved. If, on the other hand, you choose to be selfish, feel as if you are “owed” something by your ex and proceed to place the children in the middle of said “selfish ideas”, well then, your co-parenting journey shall be nothing like that in which others experience.

While the definition given by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary online does leave the definition of common sense open to perception, for the most part the idea of having common sense usually comes with having a level of adult maturity. I mean seriously, if you are a  grown adult and still think the world revolves around you then you have something else coming to you. Wake up! Once you become a parent, the world revolves 100% around your children’s lives. You are now a Mom or a Dad and your life of doing whatever you want, when you want stopped that day you gave birth. It’s not that you cannot still live your own life and have your own time, I am simply saying that once you you become a parent that all other parts of your immature, non parent world cease to exist as frequently as they did before.

Floating CandleI am all for parents having a social life, I am all for both parents having a social life. You see there is a difference, one parent does not over ride the other parent, one parent is not in charge of the other parent in any co-parenting situation, heck even in a relationship things shouldn’t be like that. Co-parenting is just like having a normal give & take relationship – you both give a little and take a little to allow each other to be parents but also have their own life aside from parenting. This is called normal people. A normal co-parenting situation in my head plays out something like I have in place – every other weekend the kids go with their Dad’s. This makes sense, because we both work so weekends would ultimately be our only “private adult time” so that means we split up the weekends giving each other “weekend time” to be our own self and to be the parent. It’s fair. It’s give & take.

My kids also see their Dad’s twice a week. Sadly my ex husband works nights so while he is always open to seeing Aj when there is no school, he usually just ends up with our K-man twice a week in the mornings before preschool. My daughter goes to her Dad’s twice a week overnight and then every other weekend. I end up with no kids every other weekend, mind you, I end up with my boys every Friday because of the ex husband working nights but he takes them Saturday through Monday while my daughter goes with her Dad Friday evening through Monday. Again, give and take. To work around things and make it so our life is split as evenly and fairly as possible.

Life is not fair, but co-parenting can be somewhat fair. Each parent has needs to be met as an individual adult and as a parent. Those needs need to be realized by both parents, and respected by both parents. Everyone I know has complimented my kids, their Dad’s and me on how well we transition with this co-parenting. We all work so well together to do our best to ensure that each parent has their own separate life and if changes come up where things need to get rearranged, it’s give & take, they will rearrange their visits so I can take my business trips while I in turn would take the kids a little extra if they wanted me to because they did that for me.

Mom Snuggling with SonI am blessed and so thankful that co-parenting has worked easy (for the most part) for me because my children have blossomed and become positive mini-me’s because of how well their father’s and I have tried to work to ensure our grudges against each other personally never fall into the life of co-parenting. It’s easy to have a positive co-parenting experience for your life too, if you are struggling, simply take some time to work hard to stand firm and separate what is co-parenting and what is personal life. What is a personal grudge and what is a real genuine parental issue needs to be separated too, for instance you all should discuss any parenting issues that come up with an open mind, remember kids play off of parents – they do this while living in same household with two parents, and let go of anything that is non-parent related.

If your kids are being tended to sufficiently and are not in harms way then who gives a crap what the other parent does on their time or their free time. That’s it in a nutshell. Simple. Easy. Positive Co-parenting. Positive Children.

Do you co-parent? Do you have friends who co-parent? If you have issues with this topic or your friends do please ask question in the comments section and I will formulate a blog post advice column to reply and hopefully assist co-parents around the world.

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