Tag Archives: Fathers

Healthy Co-Parenting with your Ex

Crystal

Let’s face it folks, times have changed. The traditional family is no longer that traditional. More and more often couples are finding themselves in a position where they no longer want to ‘couple’ but are, regardless, looking ahead at years of obligatory interaction due to their children.

For the past 6 years my ex and I have been called things like: weird, surreal, amazing, and the ‘poster children’ for divorce. As much as I enjoy praise, (come on, who doesn’t?) it also breaks my heart a little that our situation is so uncommon.

I have questioned what it is that makes our relationship one that, while never perfect, has always been equitable and pleasant. Is it because one or both of us are perfectly rational, emotionally mature individuals who should be therapists in our spare time? Uh…nope (shush Dan, I can hear you from here).

What we have found together, though, is a friendship that has grown roots in today, and plans for tomorrow, rather than lingering in yesterday. Here are the lessons we learned along the way, in the hopes that our style of healthy co-parenting becomes the norm rather than the exception.

1) THE KID COMES FIRST

This is the foundation upon which every decision we make is based. It is non-negotiable. This is, unfortunately, also where so many relationships go wrong. Anger and resentment gets in the way, people want to hit back, or score points. Stop it! This is not about you. It doesn’t matter who did what to get you there, the fact is you’re there. Take responsibility for the child you created, and their well-being. What is in their best interest? What kind of life do you want for them?

2) COMMUNICATE (PLEASANTLY)

Whether you are talking to or about your ex, be civil. Do not bad-mouth each other in front of your child. You once loved this person enough to procreate with them. Point out their positives when you can to your children, so they can recognize them as well. Every child starts being told “oh, you have your dad’s nose” or “you’re so your mother’s son”. Don’t let them have a negative association with that half of themselves.

Communicate regularly when possible. Before my ex was able to move closer, we used to meet up at a coffee place every weekend to exchange our son. We spent an hour or so chatting about our weeks and what was going in our son’s life. While you might not be there, consider what small changes you can work towards to make the situation less adversarial.

3) BE A FAMILY

Yep, you heard me. Do stuff together. No, it’s not going to ‘confuse’ your child. It’s going to help them understand that while there is a new living arrangement, being part of a family doesn’t stop. We do birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s/Father’s Day, even Halloween. Camping and road trips, while not common, have been done. This is something that I give my ex SO much credit for. Over the years he has always gone out of his way to ensure he is present. On my end, I have always ensured he knew he was welcome in anything we do.

This feeling of family extends though. His parents stay with me when they come over from England. They want to spend time with their Grandson, and I love that! My mother and he have a hilarious relationship that involves shameless flirting. We all come as a package, and if a step-parent comes into the picture, they will absolutely be wrapped in that package.

4) BE THE GROWN UP

SO many aspects of healthy co-parenting fall into this category. Often, when parents split, the relationship shifts from parent/child to grown up/buddy. They don’t need you as a friend. They need you as a guide, a rule-setter, a loving pair of arms, and a safe place to land. Don’t try to use them as a sounding board to vent your venom over the injustice of it all. It is NOT their problem, it’s yours. Call a friend, or a hotline. Open a bottle of wine after you’ve finished ‘adulting’ and have a Facebook rant. By trying to force your child into the role you want them to fill, you are denying them their childhood. Be the grown up they need you to be in this difficult time in their lives.

All of the small choices we’ve made through the years have all fallen into one of these categories. It has made our lives so much more positive, and frankly, so much more enjoyable. Kudos to all of you out there right now who are doing your best, and keeping your integrity in difficult circumstances. I wish you smoother seas ahead.

Just remember, when in doubt, go back to #1.

Dad’s Home!

Are Dads really all that important? Are they not just the ones who bring home the money so that Mom can do her job? This seems to still be a common stereotype in our society – bloggers Carli and Dana answered June’s Question Of The Month:

What’s Dad Got To Do With It?

Dana

I was driving down the street last week, and the car in front of me turned on his signal to make a left hand turn into his driveway. Awkwardly, there were a million cars coming the opposite direction so he had to sit there and wait, while subsequently creating a lineup of cars behind him. I didn’t mind, because I wasn’t in a rush and it was a beautiful day. As I sat there, with the windows down, I saw that this man’s children had come outside on the front lawn and were cheering, “DADDY’S HOME! DADDY’S HOME!” They were jumping up and down and non-stop screaming in pure excitement that their dad was about to pull in the driveway. It made me remember that my sister and I used to do the same thing when our dad came home from work. We would be cheering in the backyard waiting for him to open the gate and greet us. For some reason, I don’t remember ever cheering for my mom to come home, which is weird. It was always my dad. (Sorry Mom, I love you too!). There was just something really exciting about dad coming home.

This got me thinking about our theme for June: “What’s dad got to do with it?” Dads are interesting to me. Maybe because I’m not a guy. I will never know what it’s like to be a dad. I feel like it must be awesome, but also weird. I imagine being any type of parent is hard, but I could see dad being a particularly hard one. Everyone I know has a very different relationship with their dad, and each dad is a different “type” of dad. No two relationships are quite the same when it comes to dads (in my inner circle, at least). Even my relationship with my dad is very different from my sister’s. It’s odd because, although everyone’s relationship with their mother is different, there are some very common mom-child relationships. I think my sister and I have the same type of relationship with our mom. Dads always seem to be a little different, and I don’t know why. I mean, moms are there, taking care of you from the beginning like it’s no one’s business; and that maternal instinct is just so strong. I don’t know how dads feel or compare when it comes to their paternal instinct. Moms are tough to beat; maybe it’s because traditionally they have become more nurturing and loving?

My dad was a great dad. He wasn’t the most lovey-dovey dad, he was a pretty serious guy but was always there for my sister and I and always said I love you. It’s strange that a lot of people don’t get the “I love you” from a parent, more specifically from the father. He was very into athletics and health. He was busy and had a lot of things he liked to do: he was a rower and a rowing coach his entire life. He took my sister and I out in the coach boat every day during coaching season. He bought us snow cones after (if we were good), or donuts on Sunday mornings (again, if we were good). He drove us to our friend’s houses, gave us our allowance, and made us do our chores. He taught how to canoe, kayak, camp, and signed us up for art classes. He was hard on my sister and I sometimes. We got into a lot of fights during the teenage years. I remember I had some of my girlfriends over, and my dad had just finished a work out in the basement. He came up to get a glass of water in his tight spandex shorts, and nothing else. I WAS MORTIFIED! But once he went back downstairs, my one friend said, “I don’t think my dad even owns a pair of spandex shorts.” Once again, MORTIFIED. But hey, that was my dad.

As a female, I think it’s natural to draw away from your father a little more when you get older. I went from celebrating his coming home from work to having a more distant relationship. I didn’t need him as much; I was doing my own thing. I relied on my friends more for support because they seemed to understand me more. Looking back, all the “tough” times I’ve had in my life, it was my dad who gave me some of the best and brutally honest advice. I will never forget the things he has told me during my darkest moments. Recently I started #hardcoreadulting, and all these big life moments were happening, and it was all happening really fast. I was feeling overwhelmed, and the person I wanted to talk to and ask for advice was my dad. These things were happening, and I was making my own decisions, but I wanted my dad’s approval. I love my mom, but I knew I need to talk to my dad about this stuff. I needed his opinion. I know I will be relying on him a lot as this “adulting” continues, and I hope he knows how much I respect him and how highly I think of him. I may not be jumping up and down when he comes home from work anymore, but I’m very glad and extremely appreciative that he is always there for me. So what’s dad got to do with it? The answer is for me and my life, a whole lot!

 

Click here to read Carli’s take on our question of the month!

What’s Dad got to do with it?

Are Dads really all that important? Are they not just the ones who bring home the money so that Mom can do her job? This seems to still be a common stereotype in our society – bloggers Carli and Dana answered June’s Question Of The Month:

What’s Dad Got To Do With It?

Carli

This is a mentality that drives me a bit batty.

I’ve known men more eager to become a father than the woman is to become a mother.

I know men who are raising multiple children, on their own. Their children have structure, rules, ups and downs, highs and lows, laughter, fights, make-ups, time-outs, family outings and most of all know just how much their dad loves them.

I know men who are just as involved in the parenting as their partner. They work with mom to work out the best schedule for their child, and stick to it. They listen to mom’s fears and share their own. They make up rules and back moms. They cut up meals into bite sized pieces, make bottles, stroke their babies head while nursing, read to, sing to, bathe and dress their children. They are present and omnipotent.

Fathers-Day-Photos (1)I know a man whose love for me was so great, it automatically extended to the child attached to me. He’s a man who would do anything possible to ensure our son has a wonderful life. A steady, sturdy, safe and comfortable life.

Yes, there are those fathers out there who don’t make their children a priority. Fathers who don’t offer that same kind of protection and love, structure and balance—or any at all. There are the fathers who hardly get involved in decisions, upbringing, rules and playtime. But there are mothers as well.

I choose to believe my husband is just as capable as I am when it comes to making decisions about children. Partly because of how offended I get when I’m made to believe I’m not capable of doing something and partly because I see examples of a fathers love for his children all around me. Men deserve to be treated equally and with the same equality that women are treated when it comes to child rearing.

Today’s women certainly wouldn’t settle for anything less, now would we?

 

Click here to read Dana’s take on our question of the month!