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 one right way to co-parent, each parenting team must find their own middle ground. – The Co-parenting Resources
I’m not a co-parenting expert, it’s a new territory for me. Mr. X was divorced with two children before he came into my life, so in short, he has been doing co-parenting with the 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 very personal reasons I shamelessly cut all ties with Mr. X – thinking I was protecting Lil’ A. It lasted for almost 8 months.
Then one night after a bedtime apology to Lil’ A I had an epiphany that what I thought was ‘protecting’ turned out to be 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 families’ objections, I opened communication line back up 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 present in our son’s life once again.
If I should follow my pain, my anger then Yes 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 rights 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 use my brain instead of my broken heart or ego.
It is so culturally common in Indonesia to see fathers just walk away completely from their wives and children then become a deadbeat father. The stigma of blaming the women really doesn’t help either. Also, the non-existence of Child Support law – well maybe somewhere there are laws that regulate these things but it is never enforceable – ‘allows’ these fathers to escape from their duties.
It took awhile for my family to accept and finally understand that it is important for Lil’ A to see his father, to spend bonding times with him which is understandable after the hell that they saw me in, they too were hurt and I understand. But by standing my ground and said, “No matter what happened with me and his father, Mr. X is still the father.” finally they accepted it.
The divorced happened between Mr. X and me. There can be ex-husbands and ex-wives out there but there are no ex-children!
It’s so hard at first, let me admit to that but it is do-able!
Co-Parenting Doesn’t Mean Your Ex is Trying To Win You Back
Well maybe in some cases it might be true 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. Maybe the ex-was really just trying to re-open the once shut down communication line.
It could be a perfect chance to discuss the children, it may open the door to co-parenting.
Personally, 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 berate 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 key. There will be times where 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 walk away from the situation until you can cool off. It takes maturities from both parties to make co-parenting works.
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
To see your children faces light up when they are talking about the great times they had with their other parent – your ex(s) husband/partner…it is priceless.
Yes, at first it stings but by separating your own emotions/feelings and seeing the happiness on your child’s face, you will know you are doing the right thing.
It will take awhile 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 grasp the concept.
Divorce is hard enough for the young ones but by practicing a healthy co-parenting it will help them to see that relationships may end, marriage may end but 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?