The number of my divorced friends has increased quite a bit since I became a single mother. I have some friends that have a good co-parenting relationship that it feels good to them. They are able to talk or text, take care of business, and move on with their day. They are doing co-parenting right.
I also have a friend for whom the mere sight of her ex makes her feel like she’s spinning out of control. He’s yelled at her in front of their kids, and she feels very triggered when she has to see him. They’ve both tried to keep the peace for their kids, but seeing each other is too much, so they have a mediator. They are doing co-parenting right.
When you are divorced and there are kids involved, you aren’t able to cut the cord and just walk away. You still have to raise your kids together in some way when they are living under your roof and you have shared custody.
I feel like one of the lucky ones when it comes to my ex-husband — we co-parent pretty well together and have agreed to disagree in some areas. When we first divorced, we still got together for special events and even took a trip together.
However, I was very aware of how rare it was. So many people would say to me, “Now, that’s how you co-parent” or told us we were a great example to others and our kids.
But, like I said, I knew how rare our circumstances were, and I also knew these comments made those who were co-parenting differently feel like they were doing something wrong.
Our co-parenting style has changed dramatically since we first divorced. We have mutual respect for each other’s partners, so we don’t take trips together or have dinner together. If we did and it worked for all involved, that would be great.
But it doesn’t. We have to consider our partners’ feelings, and it was time to stop having family get togethers in that way. It doesn’t mean we aren’t doing co-parenting wrong. It means we are doing the best we can.
After seeing Kristin Cavallari’s Instagram post revealing she was celebrating with her ex, Jay Cutler (the two announced their separation last spring), it triggered me a bit. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who had feelings about it.
It made me wonder if I was doing enough for my kids. It made me miss the times I used to spend the holidays with my ex (when we were married and when we weren’t). It made me question if we were still good co-parents.
But then I was able to get back to my reality and remember who the fuck I am, and how hard my ex and I have worked to get to this point.
We are co-parenting in a way that works for us; that’s all that matters. This isn’t one size fits all.
Just because someone is friendly with their ex and goes on vacation with them, their new partners, and all the kids, doesn’t mean they’re doing it better than you and you need to rise to their level.
And just because another couple is able to talk to each other, be all business, and not show any emotion, and you still get shook sometimes when dealing with issues like holidays, doesn’t mean they are doing it better than you either.
I think messages like “This is how you co-parent” can be damaging to those who are struggling and know there’s no way they’d be able to sit in a costume next to their ex for a picture.
It’s great that some people have that relationship with their ex. And it’s great that some don’t.
The reality is, your relationship with your ex may be the most complicated one of your life. It’s going to change many times over. If you decide to move on and get involved with someone else, they are going to have feelings about your relationship with your ex, because that’s part of it. It’s fair, and as long as the kids are safe and happy, you have every right to make decisions that honor what’s best for the two of you.
So, this is your PSA from one co-parent to another: Just because you aren’t on vacation (or even friendly) terms with your ex spouse, that in no way means you are co-parenting wrong.
Don’t feel like just because it’s almost 2021 that we have to redefine what co-parenting looks like across the board.
Not everyone wants to share their Halloween candy, holidays, or even a moment to snap a picture with their ex. And that’s more than okay.
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