Co-parenting is never easy for most, sometimes it can take years for separated couples to meet in the middle and respect one another's choices. I was one of those. Many years ago I had a bitter break up with my eldest child's dad and looking back on the whole situation, I'm mortified.
Co-parenting is never easy for most, sometimes it can take years for separated couples to meet in the middle and respect one another's choices. I was one of those. Many years ago I had a bitter break up with my eldest child's dad and looking back on the whole situation, I'm mortified. Everything from the way I acted, how I responded and most importantly the damage I was doing to my then one-year-old.
I was irrational, stubborn and only put my own needs first. It took me a number of years to see sense and realise how I was acting was affecting my own daughter. In fairness, I wasn't fair out of my teens and needed the life experiences to help me see sense. Without a doubt, this whole chapter of my life most definitely formed the character my family see today.
If you are struggling with your new life co-parenting here is what I would say to my younger self.
- Communicate. Please don't argue in front of your child. Try respect their point of view whether you agree with it or not. Always communicate directly with your child’s other parent. And most importantly don't allow your child to be a messenger or to negotiate on your behalf.
- Talk to your child. Regardless of age, tell your child what's happening. If daddy or mammy are moving out they need to know. Sit down with them, have an age-appropriate chat with your child and tell them you are separating. Remind them how much you both love your child and that it will never affect your love for them. Try making a plan so your child knows what to expect going forward. Talk openly and honestly about the separation. Encourage your child to express any feelings or concerns at all times.
- Stop fighting. Little ears and all that. They hear everything. Negotiate and resolve your differences in a respectful manner. You may not fully agree but try your best to meet in the middle. Never criticise, undermine or argue in front of your child.
- New boyfriend or girlfriend? Give them a chance. Put yourself in their shoes. It can't be easy. They've big boots to fill but they will never take your place.
- Don't forget about the extended family. You may have your indifference with your ex-partner but that shouldn't affect the extended family. Ensure your child retains contact with siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. It’s can be hard to please everyone especially when your child has two homes but an hour here and there a week will do them the world of good.
I'm co-parenting now 7 years and it wasn't always easy but tomorrow my daughter's dad gets married and honestly, he couldn't have picked a better woman. She idolises my girl. Loves her like her own. It took time for me to make a decision on whether I liked her or not but mostly out of fear that she would try and replace me. It was far from it. She just wanted to give my daughter the same love and happiness she gets at home.