Co-parenting with your Ex: Getting it Together
I’ve never piloted an airplane before, but I’ve travelled in them enough times to realize that raising a child or children requires the same structured effort. One parent is in charge, and the other, while equally as capable, is mostly responsible for support.
Recently, I had a somewhat heated telephone discussion with my ex-husband about our 13-year-old son. This happens at least twice a week. We co-parent, and do it long distance. So sometimes being on the same page about our preferences can involve tense, often R-rated language.
I had a somewhat heated telephone discussion with my ex-husband about our 13-year-old son.
So far, this set up has worked. But when that blueprint gets threatened by a weekend visit, or a vacation spent at dad’s house, co-parenting gets strained. This is where different rules and different parenting styles come into play, creating tension. And when it boils over, who really has the last say?
They have to know each other’s moves, and when to have the other’s back, in case something goes wrong.
I can hear you saying, “A child ain’t a plane, wha’ you really talkin’ bout?” It’s the best analogy I can give to show how intense the concentration should be, when it comes to raising a child. It’s a joint effort, and neither parent should be more demanding than the other. Easier said than done, but it’s an effort many parents need to take.
In many cases, exes aren’t on that level of concentration. It’s not easy raising a child alone, and it’s no easier doing it with someone else. Tensions flare, values tend to clash, and punishments that should be administered tend to be undermined and overridden because of the parent’s inability to communicate well.
I’m sure many of you who are separated go to drop off your child or children to the other parent, and end up fighting over something that has NOTHING to do with the child.
Since we’re on the topic of the ‘other man or woman’, let us address a few issues.
Number one, it is understood that the relationship that created the child is over. One parent may move on before the other parent, which will leave some sort of bitter taste in the mouth. Sometimes flaunting and ‘rubbin it in the face’ occurs, which naturally dredges up some anger. It’s not necessary.
Many times it’s a threat for the mother. Another woman means less time being spent with the child. Or even the mother just doesn’t want their child around another woman. I see that as a maternal instinct of protection. No woman truly wants to know that another woman is trying to step in to raise her child. But it is the reality of the situation. So either you prepare to fight a poor fight, or get to know the other woman enough to say that you’re comfortable knowing your child is around them, and feel confident that they will be treated well. Fellas, the same goes for you when your child’s mother is in a relationship with a new man. Again, easier said than done, but it’s one of the more adult moves to make when co-parenting.
It takes a lot for co-parenting to go smoothly, or close to being smooth. The best qualities that both parents should maintain are open communication, respect, and a main focus on what benefits the child positively. Seven times out of ten, my ex-husband and I are on that page. The other three times indicates that we’re a work in progress. Nobody is perfect. But we have come a long way from wanting to throw bricks through car windows, and from disregarding each other.
There are things you may not like about the other parent, but for a better, child-rearing experience, a constant battle must be maintained until that level of togetherness is attained. No one is saying you have to be together to raise the child, but respecting the fact that co-parenting is much more than just the title, is an act that is necessary to ensure the child is being raised in the healthiest environment.