Many of you would never guess this but…Marcos is not Zoey’s biological dad. He loves her like she was and she loves him just as much. With that bit of information I open up the topic of co-parenting. Co-Parenting is one the hardest aspects of my life. I have been co-parenting with her dad since she was born. Although it has gotten easier, there are always bumps along this long road. I know I am not alone in this struggle and with so many blended families I thought I would share some of my tips to co-parenting. Remember…as humans we are always a work in progress and no one is perfect. Just take deep breath mama, I struggle with you too.
Tip #1: Agree to disagree
The truth is co-parenting is basically raising a child in two different ways. You won’t always agree with what the other believes, thinks, wants to do, or feels is right. More often than not, we don’t see eye to eye. This goes in all areas of life. Just remember this person is different from you and there will be times where no matter what you try you can’t make them see what you see.
Tip #2: Don’t involve your children in any problems
This is my most important tip. I know there will be times where you want to drop an f bomb before their name or when you will be so upset at them that your anger will lead you to think that maybe your kids should know. DON’T! Whenever she senses something is off my response is always “Don’t worry we get everything solved. Your job is to be a kid”.
Tip #3: Calm before you speak
I am guilty of letting him get under my skin. I am also guilty of being the first to raise my voice and let my blood boil. I’ve learned recently I need to clam down and collect my thoughts before speaking. It will come to no surprise that when we yell nothing is accomplished. Take some time to breath and relax and even write your thoughts down. It will help you both have a more productive conversation.
Tip #4: Pick and choose your battles
Not everything is worth an argument. I believe this is true for more than just co-parenting. It applies to almost all arguments and struggles you can come across. When something is absolutely important and non-negotiable go for it. However, when there is room for negotiation-be open to it.
Tip #5: Stop pointing fingers
It is so easy to want to start off your conversations or arguments with “You” “You” “You”. Chances are you will both shut down and get nowhere. Approach these topics differently and don’t be so quick to point fingers and put the blame on the other parent. Trust me, I know your blood might be boiling and you want to just yell and blame-but don’t! Try rephrasing what you want to say…for example instead of saying “You don’t ever get his homework done” try this “It is really important for us both to make sure he is getting his homework done. It would be great to be on the same page and for us both to take an active role in his education”. Do you see how different that sounds?
Tip #6: Find a mediator/buffer
I don’t mean go to court and meet with a mediator for every discussion. For us, Marcos has become our buffer. With him involved it is easier for us all to communicate. I feel less stress and anger and I am able to be more coherent with my words. Find a friend or someone who can remain (for the majority of the time) unbiased. You want to have someone help you to communicate with each other.
Tip #7: Don’t loose sight of what’s important
In other words don’t forget the only ones who suffer here are your children. Remember not only to put them first but also try and think back to the issues that are really important. In any argument emotions can cloud our judgement.
There is no secret formula to co-parenting. It can get messy and it can get ugly. When dealing with your children there is no way to let your guard down completely. In these moments being able to step back and clear your mind is crucial. Remind yourself that this journey is far from done & making the best attempt to trying to get along is the best you can do for all parties involved.
I like how you said that having a mediator is good for co-parenting. My sister needs to co-parent with her ex-husband. I’ll suggest that they find a reputable service that offers co-parenting mediation.
It’s a work in progress to learn to communicate. Sending you best wishes.