I openly share my life as a co-parent, people will reach out to me over the years at varying stages of their co-parenting experience with questions.
While everyone’s situation is unique here are the three most common questions I receive:
1. What if my other parent is “difficult” and claims they want to co-parent, but are not easy to get along with?
If the other parent was easy to get along with, you would likely still be married. The journey to co-parenting is going to require both parents to rise above their frustrations and disappointments with the other parent. Have very candid conversations that are not accusatory. Ask the other parent, what does co-parenting look like to you? What can I do to be a good co-parent for you? Begin the conversation where you will talk about yourself and your role as a co-parent and that you want their input about co-parenting with you.
If your co-parent is genuinely dishonest and a low-integrity person, it will not be possible to have a positive co-parenting relationship. I do believe inherently people are good, and if you can look past personality traits that drove you apart and focus on the bigger picture, that will make your co-parenting relationship path smoother.
2. How long does it take until it gets “easy”?
When I get there I’ll let you know! Just kidding! Co-parenting is absolutely a journey and like any relationship, has its own ups and downs. It takes years of adjustment, constantly working and evolving consciously trying to be a good co-parent. While you are adjusting and building your co-parenting relationship, you are mourning and processing your marital relationship’s end. Even if you both believed it was the best choice you will still have much sadness in your heart.
You don’t know what your co-parenting relationship is going to truly FEEL like until you are living it. While you have some guidelines, you’re likely making it up on the fly as your lives evolve and your children grow older.
3. What is a “good” co-parent?
You will need to decide what your co-parenting relationship looks like together, what you are striving for every day, or what you hope it will become. This part of the message is critical to understand: When you are co-parents, you are still in a relationship with the other person. It is a different dynamic of a relationship. You can continue to live in the same negative dynamics that did not suit you as married partners, or you can acknowledge that you want to have a new dynamic.
Generally speaking, a good co-parent is transparent and openly communicates, they keep their commitments with the other co-parent, but also understand that life happens and flexibility is needed. A good co-parent does not take advantage of the other person, they support the other parent and carry their equal load of parenting duties.
If I did not have children with my ex-spouse, I likely would never have really engaged or spoken with him ever again. And I would have really missed out on a terrific person in my life. It took us having children together to work through the differences that caused us to split apart to come back together as a team. I am rooting for him because he is the Father to my children. We want the best for each other because we want the best for our children. We work at it every single day (okay maybe not on the weekends as much).
There is so much to be said about the co-parenting dynamic. There is still so much yet for me to uncover. I still was married longer than I’ve been a co-parent, and I’m still learning as I go. My co-parenting dynamic changes, because our children change. Our lives change. I advocate for positive co-parenting relationships because frankly, it makes your life easier. And in my case, it brings me and my children joy.