My oldest daughter has two dads, she always talks about how lucky she is to have two.
She has her dad- her biological dad, and my husband- her step dad. In today’s world this isn’t an uncommon thing. In fact it’s more common to have parents who are split up than it is to have parents who are together.
I mean let’s not kid ourselves, relationships are hard and sometimes you realize that you are happier apart than you are together. Something that was so important to me though, was that even if me and her dad weren’t together, we could raise our daughter together and do what’s best for her. It shouldn’t be that hard right? We all want the same things for our kids, for them to be happy, healthy and safe.
So why is it that when parents split up there are so many arguments? So many disagreements? We get reminded of our personal relationship and we let it affect the way we communicate.
It took him and I several months, maybe even a couple years to figure out that this wasn’t about us, it was about her. I won’t lie either, we still have disagreements about stuff, but it’s solved so quickly. When it comes to co-parenting, it’s important to see where the other person is coming from and why they might want to make a certain choice.
Common things that we have to decide together are: where she will go to school, how to divide up the custody, how to deal with child support, etc. These are things that you have to sit down and discuss together and decide what’s best for EVERYONE involved. You have to put down your personal worries, forget all the fights, all the stuff that led to your separation and think, “what’s best for our child?” If he is someone who can be trusted to keep your child safe then, that’s what is most important.
Obviously I am not blind to the fact that every situation is different. I also have a daughter with a father who is not involved, and not because he doesn’t want to be, but because it’s not safe for my child for him to be. If drugs or alcohol, violence, anything like that is involved, then you need to do what’s best as a mother and try to keep them from that situation. If you can’t do it on your own, it might be best to get the courts involved. Your child might go through phases of resenting you and questioning you, but if you explain to them why you have done what you did, then they will grow to understand and eventually appreciate your choice.
What your child will appreciate the most, though, is that you and their father get along. My oldest’s father and I are actually amazing friends, and his girlfriend and my husband are all great friends too. We talk to each other frequently, even about stuff not related to our child. We calmly discuss anything important in our daughters life and we have done a fantastic job of raising her to be an amazing and spunky little four year old.
Imagine how great it is for her to be able to have her entire family at her soccer game or her birthday party. To know that she can call her dad or visit her dad whenever she wants. To not have to listen to her mother bad mouth her father about all the mistakes he has made in his life. None of us are perfect, we have all made mistakes, relationships go two ways and they don’t always work out. But it’s not our children’s faults that it didn’t work out.
They shouldnt have to be caught in the middle when it’s actually so easy and enjoyable to co-parent together. I think it’s important to just ask yourself next time you get upset because your child came home 2 hours later than they were supposed to, “is it worth the fight? is it worth the hostility?” Because maybe if you are the bigger person and you have an open mind, then he will too.
Agreeing will become easier, resolutions will happen faster, and your child will be happier, and so will you. I promise.