I’ve been divorced, and co-parenting with my ex-husband, for 10 years now. That is exactly twice as long as our marriage lasted. Over the last decade of raising two children with the man that I once loved, I have to say; I’ve learned a lot. The first few years were filled with so much negativity and arguments on the best way to raise the kids while living apart. Now that I’m a seasoned veteran of navigating the “joys” of co-parenting, there are some lessons I’ve learned that have helped to make our lives a little less stressful and a lot happier.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to let it go. The concept seems simple, but really, it took me several years to get to the point where I could apply that theory. As a mother, it’s in our nature to try to control every situation because of course, we think we know what is best for our children. While that may be the case, I’ve learned that our opinion of the situation isn’t always the only side.
It’s important to see the “other” side and learn how to try to pull back the reigns. I used to worry whether their father was taking the same kind of care of them that I was. I used to lose sleep worrying about things I could not control on the week’s they spent with their father. I swore he wouldn’t know that milk upset my daughter’s stomach, or if he knew when to pull back when my son became over stimulated. I had to learn to trust the situation and understand I couldn’t control everything that happened while away from me and to just let it all go. Now that they are teenagers, I can happily send them over there knowing that they’re going to come back one week later in the exact same shape they were when they left.
Another key lesson learned is how critical effective communication is. In the digital age, I think we’re all so used to picking up the phone and dashing off a quick text to address any situation. I had to realize that the way I asked a question or conveyed a thought to him sometimes came across the wrong way. I learned that if I wanted to address a situation, it had to be done effectively. Years ago, the thought of talking to him used to fill me with the worst sense of dread. These days, however, I know that the only way to make sure that our parallel lives remain on course is to clearly communicate whatever it is that pops up so that we can all be on the same page.
Co-parenting takes work, and as the kids get older, we are both faced with new challenges as the needs of the kids change. By applying the lessons I’ve learned through the years, I know that we can remain on the current path and keep ourselves firmly in the “successfully co-parenting” department.