24 Jul How to Successfully Co-parent – Tips on how to survive co-parenting
The NUMBER ONE requested topic I received since I started my blog is how to successfully co-parent! As many of you may know by now, I began my journey in motherhood at 19 years old. I got married at 20, became a step parent at 20, got divorced at 22, re-married/became a step parent again at 28, and had a new baby (10 years after the first) at 29!
Baby mama drama, baby daddy drama, ex-husband drama – I’ve dealt it all, so it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two about co-parenting. Today, I want to share with you some tips to help you successfully co-parent with your child’s other parent and/or step parent.
PS – I am not relationship therapist or professional family counselor by any means. I am just sharing some things that have worked for me.
Don’t play the blame game.
Regardless of HOW the child got here, the child is here. You placing blame doesn’t change that fact. Time to grow up and move on! Your child needs you.
If you’re done, be done.
If you and your child’s other parent call it quits, make sure that you are sure. Nothing is worse than a ping pong relationship in which a child watches their parent’s be together, then not together, then together again. It’s not only messy, it’s confusing to the child.
Providing stability in all areas is key in raising children. So don’t break up unless you’re serious. Don’t try being together again unless you’re serious. The toll it takes on your child is too much.
Don’t be bitter.
There are times when one parent decides to leave the relationship while the other still wants to hold on. Those feelings of wanting to make the relationship work can turn into anger and then resentment and then bitterness. For the sake of your child, you have to move on. I know it’s hard. But If you don’t your ill feelings will start to affect the possibility of a positive co-parenting relationship.
Don’t be a hater.
If/when your ex gets a new boyfriend/girlfriend- DON’T BE A HATER. The situation sucks and it hurts, especially if you thought you and this person would be together forever. If you allow that jealousy and anger to spill over into your parenting relationship, things are bound to get messy AF.
I encourage having a conversation with the other parent just to outline the child’s involvement in the new relationship, but keep in mind that you are only in charge of your child not the other parent. You can’t tell them what to do, but you have every right to state how you feel and what you expect .
Remember that your child is ALWAYS watching.
I know it’s hard, but make sure you mind what you say in front of your child. You may slip up and talk shit about their parent to a friend or new love interest or end up arguing with the other parent in front of the child from time to time. Although this may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it can have an impact on the child.
Remember that your child is still developing their own opinions and feelings and you should never want to sway those feelings based on your own emotional grudges. If your baby mama/baby daddy/ex-husband/ex-wife ain’t shit, it’s NOT your job to make your child aware.
Don’t use a parent as a punishment.
Don’t use “I’m going to send you to your mom’s/dad’s house” as a punishment or threat. When you do that, you are automatically painting the other parent as the bad guy and painting their home as a bad place. This is not to be confused with “I am calling your mother/father”.
I, myself, call CJ’s dad if he gets in serious trouble because sometimes I just need backup when reprimanding CJ or enforcing a punishment. That’s different than using him as a punishment because I’m calling on him to work together. That should always be the end goal.
Stay in your lane.
This is for the step-parents. Remember that although you are a parental figure, that child already has a mother/father. You can’t come in to the place creating new rules if no one asked you to. Rules were already set in place before you arrived. Your job is to be a support system to your spouse and the other parent (whether you like it or not) and enforce the guidelines they have set forth.
HOWEVER, you are still a role model in this child’s life. This means that your own morals and values can influence the child on a daily basis. I suggest setting up a meeting with your new spouse and their child’s other parent to discuss working together for the sake of the child. This will give you all the opportunity to discuss boundaries and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Last, but not least, don’t be an ass to the baby mama/ baby father. You married this person knowing that you both would have to interact with their ex on a regular basis. As long as they’re not crossing any lines, chill the fuck out.
Give the respect you want to receive.
This is for the parents learning to accept a new step-parent. Respect is a two-way street and in order for co-parenting to be successful, all parties involved must be respectful of one another. Being disrespectful just causes unnecessary animosity and resentment to all parties involved including the child(ren). If you are a jerk to the step-parent, the step-parent will most likely be a jerk back. And what does that do? How does that help anyone?
Although that is your child, you are not allowed to boss the step-parent around. Try to understand that the situation can be uncomfortable for the step parent as well. They may not agree with all of your parenting methods, but out of respect for you and their spouse, they have to support them. The only way you can make sure that happens is if you are respectful and polite to them as well. Whether you like it or not, they are going to be in your child’s life for the rest of their lives.
Unless your child is being hurt or harmed in any way, put your feelings to the side and play nice. You don’t have to be besties, but I think it’s a pretty good idea to be friendly with a person who is going to around your child a lot without you around.
Don’t use your child as a pawn.
Just because you’re mad at your child’s mother/father, it is not fair to hold the child hostage and deny the other parent the time they deserve with their kid. It’s not your right. Period. There are other ways to work things out. Besides, who are you really punishing when you do this? The child.
Don’t force it.
Excuse me while I scream this for the folks in the back, “IF YOUR CHILD’S OTHER PARENT DOESN’T WANT TO BE A PART OF YOUR CHILD’S LIFE IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO FORCE THEM TO DO SO!” Do not get me wrong, I do not support anyone being a dead beat parent. And, I do suggest that you encourage that the other parent get involved.
However, you can only control yourself and your own involvement in your child’s life. Your child needs you, ESPECIALLY if they only have one active parent. You can’t waste your time trying to convince or force a person to be in their child’s life.
All of that energy being focused on the other parent, means less time focused on your baby. I know it sucks, but at the end of the day, you can only focus on being the best mother/father you can be to your child.
Worry about yourself.
It is not your job to micromanage your child’s other parent. As long as your child is not being hurt or mistreated, you have to let go of your anxieties and trust that the person YOU chose to create a child with, will not bring harm to your kid.
If there is anything that you would like to establish as a routine for your child (diets, bedtime, punishments, etc.), try starting the conversation with “I need your help working on this with (insert child’s name)”. Not “You betta not give my child any Doritos before bed or we’re gonna fight.”
Chill, Petty Betty.
Pick and choose your battles. Trust me, there will be many! Don’t sweat the little stuff. If little Johnny forgot his math book at his other parent’s house, it’s not worth an argument. The hardest part about co-parenting is learning how to balance, compromise and coexist.
Keep a shared calendar!
I actually just learned this tip myself! Start a google shared calendar that outlines where your kid will be each day, vacations, practices, games, recitals- all that good stuff. This keeps everyone on the same page and helps you remember important dates!
Alright! Well that is the end of today’s lesson! If you have any tips on surviving co-parenting, please leave them in the comments below! I would love to hear them:)