The Gift of Co-Parenting

The Gift of Co-Parenting

Technically co-parenting means: An arrangement in a divorce or separation by which parents share legal and physical custody of a child or children. – from The Free Dictionary

That’s the short answer.

Long answer, Co-parenting comprises all the activities related to communicating, negotiating, and making decisions regarding your children with your child’s other parent. There is no right way to co-parent. Each parenting team must find their middle ground. – The Co-parenting Resources

I’m not a co-parenting expert, and it’s new territory for me. Mr. X was divorced with two children before he came into my life, so in short, he has been co-parenting with his ex-wife for years.

Co-parenting Is Not A Walk In The Park

My marriage didn’t end very well at first. There was a lot of drama, a lot of anger, a lot of pain, and resentment. For personal reasons, I shamelessly cut all ties with Mr. X – thinking I was protecting Lil’ A. It lasted for almost eight months.

Then one night, after a bedtime apology to Lil’ A, I had an epiphany that what I thought was ‘protecting’ was hurting this innocent little boy. I alienated his father. The person he loves. My ‘protecting’ blanket ended up hurting my son. Parental alienation is real, people. It can be dangerous to your child.

So against my family’s objections, I opened a communication line with Mr. X.

He’s still so young. He will forget about his Daddy anyway…” said one of my relatives when they found out I had re-opened the door to let Mr. X be in our son’s life again.

If I should follow my pain, my anger, then ys, I would rather disappear far, far away, but would that be fair for Lil A? No! It would mean I would rob him of his right to have a relationship with his father. It wouldn’t be fair. It might ruin him in the future.

So I sucked it all up and used my brain instead of my broken heart or ego.

It is so culturally common in Indonesia to see fathers walk away entirely from their wives and children and become deadbeat fathers. The stigma of blaming the women doesn’t help either. Also, the non-existence of Child Support law – well, maybe somewhere some laws regulate these things, but it is never enforceable – ‘allows’ these fathers to escape from their duties.

It took a while for my family to accept and finally understand that it is crucial for Lil’ A to see his father and spend bonding with him, which is understandable after the hell they saw me in. They, too, were hurt, and I understand. But by standing my ground and saying, “No matter what happened with me and his father, Mr. X is still the father.” they finally accepted it.

The divorce happened between Mr. X and me. There can be ex-husbands and ex-wives, but there are no ex-children!

It’s so hard at first, let me admit to that, but it is doable!

Co-Parenting Doesn’t Mean Your Ex Is Trying To Win You Back

It might be true in some cases, but the whole concept still seems so far-fetched for most Indonesians.

I get frustrated reading some emails about exes contacting their ex-spouses. Most of the advice these women got was, “He’s trying to win you back.” Or “He’s just lonely. Ignore him.

Again, maybe it’s true…but there’s a chance it might be wrong. Perhaps the ex was just trying to re-open the once-shut-down communication line.

It could be a perfect chance to discuss the children, and it may open the door to co-parenting.

I’m approaching and treating co-parenting as a business venture with Mr. X. We may not be friends yet, but we’re in this together for the boy. He and I managed to maintain civil communications in front of our son and behind him. We communicate about school, etc. Talking bad about the ex is also a big no-no in front of Lil’ A, and I banned my family from playing detective whenever he got home from spending a weekend with Daddy. It would be unfair to put your child as a spy.

Please, never criticize your ex in front of your children, regardless of your ex-spouses’ sins… in your child’s eyes, they are still the father/mother.

Keeping the emotions in check is critical. There will be times when the ex-says things that make your blood pressure hit the roof, and you just want to yell at them. It is normal. Take a deep breath and leave the situation until you can cool off. It takes maturity from both parties to make co-parenting work.

Remember, you are not doing this for your ex’s sake. You are doing this for your child who still needs the presence and relationships with their father/mother.

The Gift of Co-Parenting

Seeing your children’s faces light up when they talk about the great times they had with their other parent – your ex(s) husband/partner… is priceless.

Yes, at first, it stings, but by separating your emotions/feelings and seeing the happiness on your child’s face, you will know you are doing the right thing.

It will take a while for the little one to understand that now they have two homes. One with Mommy and one with Daddy. It took Lil’ A several months before he finally grasped the concept.

Divorce is hard enough for our young ones, but practicing healthy co-parenting will help them see that relationships and marriage may end. It would empower them to recognize that their parents will always be there for them no matter what.

Are you willing to give your child(ren) the gift of co-parenting?

If you are divorced, how do you handle co-parenting? Do share your tips.

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13 thoughts on “The Gift of Co-Parenting

  1. Sue the Desperate Housemommy Reply

    I’m not divorced myself, but my sister-in-law is. She’s going through the “I think he’s trying to win me back” thought process right now. Will share this with her. Seems to me that you’ve taken a scenario that you hadn’t anticipated and making it something beneficial. Love that.

  2. John Reply

    Maureen… another beautiful and wise blog post. You’re an inspiration to others who are trying to do this stuff. It is so important that kids get to have a proper relationship with both of their parents. I’m so glad that you are able to get past the Indonesian disease for the benefit of Lil A. He needs both you and his dad whatever crap happened between the two of you. I know my daughter needs both me and her mum as well.
    I read in a book about co-parenting once that kids are best off with one of two kinds of co-parenting relationships. Either the ex-couple become friends or the ex-couple become business partners. So if you can’t stay friends you’d better learn how to become business partners I think. Please, please, please, don’t take any of the other failed options that so many exes take with their kids. Your kids are the most important things in your lives so look after them properly!
    In my case, I tried to hang on for too long in a destroyed relationship where my wife was having an affair / was just friends with the guy / was having an affair again and the best thing about finally really separating was that it allowed a bit more distance from the emotional turmoil. I don’t know if the sometimes friendly emails or text messages from my ex means she’s ‘trying to get back together’ or not, but really I don;t care any more. Al I want is to maintain cordial enough relations so we can talk about what’s happening in school, what Lil I’s current problems are and we can both put her needs first.
    I know you and I are both still a little screwed up from our experiences. The thing is we still have plenty of time to recover and move on from those experiences. Our kids are still in their most formative and impressionable years. They need us to behave in the best way for them NOW. We can take a little more time to work it all out.
    Thanks for your uplifting post.

  3. Bicultural Mama Reply

    Great, thoughtful post. I love the line: “There can be ex husbands and ex wives out there but there are no ex-children!” It is hard to sometimes separate the brain from the heart, but like you said, it’s almost like a business partnership for the sake of your son. My friend has the same attitude, she is allowing the father of her twin toddlers into their lives because she said it wouldn’t be fair for them not to have a father in their lives (even though the father cheated on my friend for 18 months before and after she was pregnant – hard to get over, but she puts her feelings aside for the kids).

    Another mom I know did the opposite and cut out the father from her son’s life at an early age. The son is now 15 years old. The father has tried to call and reconnect, but the mom won’t allow him to talk to their son. He will grow up thinking he never had a father, when in fact it was his mother who preventing him from having a relationship with his father. That’s not putting the kid first. No matter what went on between the parents, the fact is that the child does have a biological father who would be involved if allowed.

  4. Nami Reply

    Sounds like you did a lot of soul searching on this one but I think you are doing the right thing. I know people who have lost contact with their father as a result of divorce and it’s always the same question – what if?

    When your son is an adult, he’ll figure it all out for himself as long as you let him see all the pieces in play.

    This was a GREAT post!

  5. Jessica Reply

    What a beautiful post. And, what a beautiful gift to give your son. I think it’s important that when relationships end with children involved that both the adults make an effort to co-parent. It can be tough, but I think for the sake of the children, it’s necessary.

  6. Jessica Reply

    I love this: “There can be ex husbands and ex wives out there but there are no ex-children!”

    It’s so true. Children need to be first and I think they need to be allowed to maintain a relationship with both parents AND to be allowed to form their own opinions of the other parent. For that reason, I never say anything bad about my ex.

    I think you did the right thing! Co-parenting is difficult, especially if the two parties don’t get along.

  7. ChopperPapa Reply

    Excellent choice to allow dad back into his life. I pray in the long run the swallowing of your pride will be well worth it.

  8. Jessie Powell Reply

    That attitude takes a strong mind and heart. Well spoken, and well done. Putting your child’s needs first cannot be easy, but you should feel very good that you have done so and stood your ground.

  9. JL Reply

    Divorce is really a hard decision to make specially if you have child/ren. Putting first you child/ren needs is very important. It may take sometimes for him/them to accept it but soon it will.

  10. roamingmommy1 Reply

    I really admire your strength and the mature way in which you handled the situation with your family, Mr X and Lil’ A. It is important to transmit that even though co-parenting can be challenging for all members involved, we ultimately don’t have to loose sight of the little people that have the right to have both parents. I thin you have communicated this very well in your post and that you are handling the situation very well.
    Putting children’s needs first is the most important thing.

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