Ask Toi: How do you Co-parent?

One of the things I can say is that I do not have to do the traditional co-parent with my husband now.  We are married and we live in the same house.  However we had some real conversations once our daughter was born and some things we implemented before we got married to help in that regard.

When our daughter was just a few months we had broken up.  Not that type of earth shattering break up where you throw crap out of the window but it was a breakup.  We decided early on since we weren’t married at the time that we had to establish some ground rules early.  One that if things went left we would not use our child as a pawn.  We acknowledged even in some difficult moments that as parents we were solid as a rock but as a couple we needed to work through some things.  We decided early on that we would keep the same friendship as a focus point.  Now I know for a fact that this can be hard depending on how things break off.  Keep in mind that the children are in the middle and since you both are on opposite sides of the fence, look to your children in the middle and keep that as the focus.  I didn’t say that it would be magically easy.  He during our short-lived breakup would still come and get her on time.  He would bring her back on time.  We communicated only about her.  We were vigilant in making sure that she was taken care of on all levels. Oh and I didn’t mention he didn’t even live in the same city.  It helps when both parents are committed.  The issue is often times one parent wants to dominate the situation and it can’t be that way.  Agree. Agree to be there, to be a presence instead of just sending presents and child support.

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I would encourage you to get a custody or even a visitation agreement in writing and go to the courts to have it established.  This is helpful for when things go left to establish things while you’re calm instead of it being a hateful issue.  Learn to know a few things:

  1. The relationship is over. Unless you come back together and often times you don’t stop making that person pay for the relationship ending through his kids.  I have seen where parents forget that a child is a lifetime commitment.  Saying things like I never want to see my ex is fruitless unless you plan on having a 3rd party involved. You made a life time decision that didn’t work out but you have a full-time and lifetime child that needs the love of both parents.
  2. Refrain from talking badly about the other parent.  Nip this in the bud.  Little kids hear and understand more than what we give credit for.  Learn to refrain talking in their presence and that means even on the phone.  Bashing him does more hard to the child than it does to relief your anger.  After you have bashed him or her it didn’t change the fact that you both are parents and have to work together.
  3. If you are the parent that makes promises than keep them.  Often times the parent who has the child full-time has to deal with tears, broken hearts, etc. It’s not fair.  Be an outstanding parent.  Be there no matter what.  Do not allow a bitter ex, a new boo, a job or anything get in the way.  Keep in mind if your children are your priority you will find a way.

Get a mediator.  Let that mediator not be a family member or close friend.  This is when folks start taking sides.  You aren’t there in a boxing ring to find out which of the parents were wrong in the relationship.  The mediator is there to act as a liaison for the child or children who are in the middle.

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Make real solutions that can be honored. Do not make alliances on things you don’t have in your heart to do.  It’s better to be honest than to lie and hurt the child.  Be open to communication.  If you would separate bitter feelings often times you can at least decide to be there for the child.  Hurt people hurt people but its an excuse if you don’t own the hurt and make necessary changes.  Just because you are hurt doesn’t give you the license to hurt the other parent.

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Lastly let’s briefly talk about the get back.  When one parent messed up in the relationship and is the direct cause for why the family isn’t together the get back says you have to do all you can to that other parent so they can see how that feels. So after you slashed a few tires, aired out the dirt on Facebook oh that can always be gotten back no matter how hard you try to delete, called the person’s job and lied to get them fired, showed at his or her momma’s house to make a scene, suggested things that didn’t happen, what have you accomplished? Nothing.  You are still the parent of that child or children and someone has got to be the bigger person and make better decisions.  Let it be the both of you.

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