Co-parenting. Single parenting. Parallel parenting. Counter parenting. There are so many words for the parenting that one does post divorce. If you Google any of the aforementioned words you will find tons of articles about how to do this, that, and the other thing.
The theme is the same throughout: you got a divorce more than likely due to the fact that you didn’t get along anymore and now you are finding yourself having to navigate the good, bad, and ugly parts of parenting with that person in two different homes. You may get along great for the kids sake or you may hate each other. You may find yourself somewhere in between or on the different ends of the spectrum all within one day.
In my home we have four children. Two of them have parents that co-parent better and better with every passing week. Two of them have parents that can’t have a simple conversation without a fight relationship starting.
My ex husband and I have it pretty well figured out. There are things that I wish he wouldn’t do and I am sure he feels the same about some of my approaches. We have a mutual respect and understanding of boundaries, different parenting styles, and the importance of our children seeing healthy interactions between their parents. We aren’t friends, we don’t hang out, or have any desire to do so and yes, at first we had a rocky start attempting to navigate this new territory. We experience disagreements and hurt feelings on occasion especially when decisions need to be made or something changes with our routine.
Despite the bumps in the road we maintain the same mindset in all that we do: Best Interests of the Kids. Period.
The other set of children in my home experience parallel parenting and sometimes counter parenting. This is done to the extreme based on unforgivable past issues that put the children in danger. Real danger. As well as continued instability with the other parent. Mom and dad can’t have a conversation without a fight starting- usually started by a condescending attitude from Mom.
In this situation things are not done in the best interest of the kids in both homes. Unfortunately what is in the best interest of the kids in this situation is total separation from the other parent so as to not cause turmoil and to not create a toxic environment for the kids.
Post Divorce Parenting Effects
My children are thriving and growing. The quality time they are able to spend with both parents is wonderful for them. We still have moments where my oldest will ask why he can’t see both his parents at the same time so he doesn’t have to miss either of us. Those moments are hard for me because I don’t want to say the wrong thing to make him feel like he is being dismissed. I believe we as parents are getting better at making time to do things together with the kids still as appropriate. This past Halloween we trick or treated together. We had a joint birthday party last February. I am hopeful for more joint gatherings in the future.
One of his kids is still young enough where he doesn’t see the damage that the arrangement with his other parents
is causing. We see it in the inability to do simple tasks without a melt down, the issues in school, and the level of personal accountability/responsibility. He is so young and impressionable that once we are able to deprogram him from the habits that are formed in his “co” parents home and remind him how things work in society and in our home things begin to improve and he builds this level of confidence in himself and his abilities that is so moving. Unfortunately, it doesnt last because our parenting time is over.
The oldest is growing and changing at a rapid pace that even she is surprised with. She is quickly developing her own voice, thoughts, and convictions. She regularly confides in us small things that to her are huge things. It is my firm belief that how you approach the things that we consider small will determine if a child trusts you with the really big things.
Children are resilient, yes this is true. But, not when all they have to do is try to bounce back from every issue. People often debate how ending a marriage will affect their kids- it’s not the divorce that causes the problems. It is what you do after the fact that defines their life.