The topic of co-parenting, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult topics to address. All divorced parents hold unique positions when it comes to a positive co-parenting relationship. Is one style of co-parenting wrong? No. Not necessarily. However, I would fair to say, some co-parenting styles are probably more effective than others.
Which brings me to the main point of what I desire to convey in this post. I want to share a powerful moment, at least a powerful moment for me, I recently experienced regarding the five-year-old daughter I share. The result of this story, I feel, is a direct reflection of the co-parenting efforts my daughter’s mother and I have put in ensuring a conflict-free co-parenting arrangement.
Now before I share this story, keep in mind, my oldest daughter’s mother and I were in a place of intense odds with one another. To say that we appreciated each other is probably a long shot, to say the least. I cannot directly speak for her, but I believe it is an accurate depiction when I say we could not stand, nor stomach, one another.
I guess that is what five years of back-and-forth family law litigation would do; make you intensely dislike each other. However, upon our last family law litigation in June 2018, I never would have imagined we would be in a healthy place with each other today. So healthy, the results revealed themselves in how our daughter feels she can now talk about her parents in the same sentence; this never occurred in the past.
On 8 May 2019, I took my oldest daughter to ballet class. It was an ordinary day, me and the kiddo. At around 6:30 PM, I and the kiddo get to the ballet dance academy, and we meet up with her mother; this is the woman I litigated against for five years. We greeted each other. Again, still pretty ordinary.
The reason my daughter’s mother met us at the dance academy was that she had our daughter’s ballet outfit. So she was there to simply drop off the clothing. Upon our daughter walking into the dance studio, this is where we, her parents, began having a simple conversation.
As our child was there practicing, she would also observe the very few moments she sees her mother and father in the same room, supporting her. However, this was not the powerful moment; although it may have been meaningful to our daughter. What was powerful was a statement my daughter’s mother shared with me.
My daughter’s mother recently obtained a new SUV. Due to the size of the vehicle, my daughter’s mother tells our child they can now take family trips in the SUV; my daughter’s mother is married. In any case, my daughter responds to her mother by saying, “So we can now take family trips with Nana (her maternal grandmother), and Da-Da (me), riding in the back.”
Now to be clear, I and my daughter’s mother, will not be doing any joint family outings. However, this is the first recorded moment, in our history as our daughter’s parents, where our child has put her mother and father in the same sentence. For me and her mother, this was significant. It was special and demonstrated how far we have come in our ability to co-parent.
So how did we get here?
The answer is simpler than you would think. We left each other alone. What we now have is a business partnership and a mutual interest in the life of our daughter. Since I can only speak on my own behalf, I think five years of endless family court litigation finally birthed what should have taken place from the beginning between my daughter’s mother and me.
I think the most important factor in our co-parenting success is attributed to how we give each other the greatest amount of autonomy as possible as parents. My daughter’s mother and I do not get involved in each other’s day-to-day decision making calculus during the times we have our daughter. Unless it is a decision that requires us both to come to a joint agreement, such as medical, dental, or education, we live each day autonomously from one another.
Secondly, there is no longer any critical attitudes towards one another’s parenting style. Unless the action’s of the other parent is about to endanger the child(ren), we stay out of each other’s way. As a recommendation for those going through a similar situation that I have experienced, keep this in mind. However the other parent chooses to exercise their parenting style, let them be. It is more stressful trying to maintain a say in what the other does, or does not do than it is to just go with the flow.
Lastly, place focus on what matters most; that is your children. There is a saying that can be so cliché. It goes like this. “Love your children more than you hate your ex.” Your children deserve love, peace, and affection; from both parents. Just because it did not work out between you and your child’s other parent, does not mean your children should become the collateral damage. Regardless of how you choose to cut it, it takes two people to make a relationship work; it only takes one to break it. Your relationship is over, move forward in peace with you and your child(ren). Start a new chapter. Your child(ren) need both parents, but positive co-parenting can start with one parent.