I have been blogging consistently for almost 2 years, and I have read several blogs by other writers. Surprisingly, I have never read a post about co-parenting. You know the grueling task of sharing children with an ex?
I have been doing this for about 3 1/2 years. As the time passes, the challenges increase. Kids get older. They move from the emotional trauma of the parents not being together anymore. Then they adjust to a new “parent” or two being in the picture. Add issues like behavior, problems at school, puberty, and sibling or stepparent/stepchild rivalry into the mix. Kids playing the game of divide and conquer while you and the one to whom you were once married (potentially your arch nemesis) have to be on the same page, despite the fact that you couldn’t get on the same page when you were together. Can anyone relate?
What do we do in these difficult situations? I can’t write the book on this subject, but I can give a few helpful tips to those who are struggling through this. To give you a clearer picture of my scenario, my ex-wife and I are both married to different people. I have 3 kids from that marriage and 1 with my wife now. My three live 4 hours away. My current wife has two from her previous marriage, so a blended family of 6 (ages 10 months to 14). Both exes are in the picture, so you can imagine that 4 different philosophies can cause tension. With that in mind, what would I recommend?
- Do what you want and make the ex vehemently angry. Just kidding😂! Compromise! You will not agree on every matter, but civilly discuss issues of disagreement and come to a truce. It is not about one party willing to die on the hill of being right.
- Take some time before you respond! Do not respond emotionally or hastily! These responses only intensify matters. The Bible says in James 1:19 to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Hear all perspectives and allow the Holy Spirit to control what you say. Fire is not put out with fuel.
- Unite for the sake of the children! This has several aspects to it. First, a set of rules must be agreed upon and implemented. Second, kids can be divisive and find a loophole in EVERYTHING. They do this even when the family unit is a traditional family, so this is intensified in the blended family when exes have to co-parent.
- Don’t parent out of guilt! This is an easy one to do when the family unit you once knew has been decimated and you want to soften some of the blow. Principle must not be compromised. Bad behavior is inexcusable, even if the kids have been through a lot.
- Get counseling! I am a firm believer in a professional counselor. I would not be where I am today had I not had some great counselors when I was going through my separation, divorce, and remarriage. Most people will dismiss this because of pride. I threw my pride aside when I knew I needed help. Counseling digs beneath the surface and reveals things that must come to the surface. It is best to bring the junk to the surface rather than sweep it under the rug. It will come out anyway, so it is best to process the issues sooner rather than later. No wonder the Bible says “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).
As I said, I can’t write the book on this subject. I can just pass along what little bit I am learning and invite you, the reader, to chime in and share your insight in the comments. It’s a hard road to hoe, and co-parenting is not for wimps. Here’s to all the brave parents who share this journey and its accompanying battle scars!