A few years ago when I was a contributor for MadameNoire.com, I wrote this post about single parenting. I decided to write it because I found co-parenting to be difficult, but over the years I've learned how to handle co-parent with ease and decided to pass this advice along to you!
Parenting is a difficult yet rewarding task for both child and parent. It has its ups and downs, but all in all, it’s a joy unlike any other. Like myself, many people in today’s world are single parents due to the end of a relationship, and they are raising their children in separate households. It’s a struggle to share custody of kids and it can be even more of a struggle depending on how well mom and dad do or don’t get along.
Five years ago my son’s father reentered his life, and while I am ecstatic that he will have the chance to grow up with his father after years of me raising him alone, the more I co-parent with him, the harder it gets. But as I go through the day-to-day struggles, I’m learning how to handle his not so mature actions and responses so that the focus can be on our son. Here’s how I do it.
Pick your battles and your responses carefully. No matter how hard the other parent tries to pull you in, whatever you do, don’t give in and fall prey to petty arguments or unnecessary drama. I can’t count the number of times that my son’s father has relentlessly tried to make me argue with him for no reason but to get under my skin so that he can say that I don’t want him in our child’s life. After a couple of years of getting upset to the point of tears, I finally realized what he was doing and made the conscious decision to respond to him only when I deemed necessary. On top of that, I try to be straightforward and to the point, and not allow him to have control of my emotions. This has eliminated so much stress from my life and improved our communication.
Have an open mind to their parenting style. Having an open mind about how your co-parent does things for your child will save you time and a massive headache. Be glad that the other parent is active and understand that while they may not do things your way, it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. There were so many times where I gave my son’s father suggestions on what he should do when he’s with him to ensure that our child is having a great time with him (according to what I thought was a “great time” of course). Then it hit me: I can’t dictate what he does with him. However he decides to spend time with our son is not my business as long as our child is safe and happy. After all, he’s trying to build a relationship with him, so I don’t want to negatively interfere with that. Maintain your standard of parenting and remember that it’s not a competition. No matter what the other parent says or does, continue to do the best you know how to for your child.
Last but definitely not least, keep in mind and in your heart the bigger picture–your child’s well-being. It’s unfortunate that so many kids suffer the loss of an active parent in their lives because the adults couldn’t grow up and get along. But if you can, it’s important to move beyond whatever bitterness and ill feelings you may have toward your co-parent and focus on the blessing—the child.
You have a choice of whether or not to give in to certain things, and that includes the decision to be petty or be mature enough to focus on who really matters. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle daily with a lot of things on this journey of shared custody, but as long as I keep the above nuggets in mind, I can be the best mother possible and a peaceful co-parent.
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