When people speak of co-parenting it sounds like this magical process, where both parents agree on everything and things work out overnight. But for most divorced or separated parents this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Its been 3 years since our divorce, and even though we are in a good place, it has taken a lot from both us to be where we are now. It has literally taken patience (a lot of it!), arguments, crying, and letting go, to be able to co-parent. Just like divorce, co-parenting is an emotionally charged process, very few of us can admit to being rational in the midst of it.
Here are 3 facts many of us do not want to admit about co-parenting:
- It Takes Time. Co-parenting does not occur from one day to the next. This process only moves along as we allow ourselves to heal. Finding ways to cope, with the fact that you are sharing custody/visitations with the person you divorced, isn’t a walk in the park. But it can be done. Honestly, after my divorce, there was a period in which I thought, this is not going to happen for us, we can’t even talk with each other, let alone co-parent! Then it hit me, we needed to make an effort, to work as a team and to believe this could work for us. Because we realized our daughter needed us both in her life.
- It is Not the Same for Everyone. The stages of co-parenting are different for all couples. Do not waste your energy comparing yourselves to others. For there is no one set way to co-parent. But there is one goal for co-parenting; to focus on the child by doing what is in their best interest. The goal in other words is to put your differences aside, in order to give your child the love and support they need. Right after our divorce, we went through what is called “Parallel Parenting”, but at the time we did not know this term existed. Edward Kruk Ph.D, a contributor for Psychology Today, defines Parallel Parenting as an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging each other and having limited direct contact. We attempted to speak in person or via cell phone, but we failed miserably. I believe it was because our wounds were not yet healed from the divorce. At that point, we agreed to strictly communicate via e-mail as needed. In our case, we needed to take a step back in order to move forward.
- Perfection Will Never Be Achieved. Be prepared to get it wrong, to mess up! There will be times in which you have the best of intentions, but emotions take over, and in that moment you will toss all rationale out the window. I’ve been there, and done that! Through trial and error I learned to forgive myself, to not beat myself up. I am only human and I make mistakes. I had to look in the mirror, and own up to the choices I had made. It was difficult, I won’t lie. But once I experienced all of that, it became easier for me to forgive my ex-husband. In forgiving myself, I was able to heal and keep moving forward. I was able to let go and co-parent for the love of our daughter.
For these reasons, I realized co-parenting is a continuous journey. Sometimes its smooth sailing and other times it can be a really rough ride. But all in all, being able to witness the joy our daughter feels in having both of us in her life, makes it all worth while.