The Commitment of Co-Parenting

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Featured on Big Blended Family.

For those who have tried and failed at co-parenting, maybe it is time to look at co-parenting differently. Do not think of it as something you are “trying” temporarily. Look at it as the form of parenting that benefits your child most.

I often hear excuses from moms and dads as to why they are unable to co-parent with their exes. They say “Your situation is different than ours” or “I’ve tried and it didn’t work” or “There are things in the other household that are intolerable to me.”

In the time I’ve written for this website, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from readers who admire our family’s co-parenting but assume that somehow all the stars aligned to make co-parenting click. Not so.

My divorce was far from easy. Infidelity was involved. It is unimportant who was unfaithful. The reason I don’t normally bring this up is because we have all forgiven one another and we all moved on. It does not matter who did what to whom during the marriage and divorce. The truth is that the best thing we could do, for everyone involved, was to keep those feelings out of parenting the children. Bitterness, resentment, and anger are all poisonous to your child.

Our take is that being a parent and caring for your child is non-negotiable, and so is co-parenting. Molly (my children’s’ stepmom) and I speak every day to coordinate our efforts for the children, and we both view co-parenting as a partnership. We have tried certain techniques that did not work for one of us, all of us, or for the children. If we try something and it fails, we move on and try another angle. The bottom line is we never stop working on our parenting relationship.

If you’ve refused to truly co-parent with your ex’s household and believe the children aren’t harmed by your distancing, consider this: When children are split between two homes, they face the challenge of reconciling two ways of life. You have it easy compared to them: you live in one home. You have one life. If you can mitigate the division for your child by coordinating discipline strategies, social life, school life and activities with your ex’s household, your child grows up with a more “whole” sense of the world. They don’t have to analyze, compare and choose between factions. Instead, they smoothly flow between homes. They give up on playing one parent against the other, because they know that they are fully accountable to both parents and that the parents are talking to one another. The likelihood of raising a manipulative child decreases.

Often, when children play households against each other, they encourage one parent to be wary of the other parents’ rules, decisions and lifestyle. They externalize their internal struggle to reconcile their two worlds. Some parents find this validating, because they believe that the child is choosing their point-of-view and that the child’s apparent skepticism of the other household is an indicator that they are raising their child properly and the other parent isn’t. In actuality, these parents aren’t doing their children any favors. They are teaching that the world is made up of insiders and outsiders.

Follow the link for more on what co-parenting means to me, on Her View From Home.

Instead, you can teach your child that everyone in their world is an “insider” and that they are free to live and love without hesitation. Doesn’t that sound like a kinder, gentler way to grow up?

Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of ten and fourteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com, and www.bigblendedfamily.com. She is a regular writer on www.herviewfromhome.com, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.

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