Lessons learned on my coparenting journey
Hey Ya’ll, it’s Erin.
Parenting with someone you love is super tricky.
Parenting with someone you’re no longer with can seem almost impossible.
I’ve been on a coparenting journey for about 2 years now.
It hasn’t always been easy, but I can say that it’s become easier over time.
I’d like to share some coparenting tips that I’ve learned along the way.
1. Always put your child(ren) first.
This includes putting your child over your feelings.
It’s important to remember that even though you may not love your ex anymore, your child does.
This person that you may hate to your core, is the other half of a parenting team that your child adores.
This was a hard lesson for me.
When I went through my divorce, I was so bitter and angry.
I never wanted to see his face again.
But, he and my daughter wanted to see each other.
She deserves to have a relationship with him that isn’t tainted by me.
Therefore, don’t talk bad about the other person in front of your child.
Don’t use your child as a weapon against the other person.
These are traps that are really easy to fall into.
You have to be strong and vigilant to put your child’s needs first.
2. Have boundaries.
Boundaries are extremely important.
These are the lines drawn in the sand that help protect you and make sure you feel respected.
Everyone’s boundaries might look different and they may change over time.
One boundary that I set in the beginning was no social media.
I didn’t want to be facebook friends. I didn’t want to see what he posted.
I was still healing from the divorce. After the healing process took place, I didn’t need that boundary anymore.
We were able to be facebook friends.
But, for a time, I needed that boundary.
You don’t need to know every single thing about your ex’s life.
Certainly don’t use your child as a spy to find things out.
Set healthy boundaries and stick to them.
3.Manage your expectations
There’s lots of really great examples of coparenting teams.
They can do multiple events together with their new significant others and really be there for their child.
These are amazing examples of coparenting teams.
However, that doesn’t happen overnight. At least not for everyone.
Give yourself some time before you try to jump into situations that you’re not ready for.
This somewhat goes back to boundaries.
Every family is going to have to do things in the way that works for their family.
Last year, we did separate trick or treating, birthday parties and so forth.
It wasn’t the time for us or our families to have to be together, even if it is great for the kids.
This year? It was different. We trick or treated together.
That’s not to say that we’ll do every holiday or event together, but you get the idea.
You’ve got to manage your expectations so that you know when you’re ready to do things together, what things should be together and when they need to be a part.
4. Be a team
Work together to provide things for your kids.
Be a team and figure out what your child needs and fairly split that with the other person.
We were using our Lil Helper diapers back and forth. He would spray the diapers and I would wash them when he brought them back.
Maybe that arrangement wouldn’t have worked for everyone. Maybe for some people they would need to have seperate stashes.
But either way, you figure out what’s best for your child and then put their needs first.
Divorce and break ups are devastating. But what we learned in our parenting class is that you never stop being a family.
You will always be that child’s family.
It might be a family in two different homes now, but that’s still their family.
That was a hard pill for me to swallow at first.
Since then, I’ve accepted this fact and we’ve had to work hard to figure out how to be on the same page.
We learned about different discipline strategies that we had to discuss.
You can always choose to have things be different rules at different houses, but still respect the rules that are in place at the other person’s house when they’re going.
Being flexible when possible has been key. You should always do things in your child’s best interest, but there’s no reason that you can’t help each other out with your child as well.
Maybe you need to switch days? Or perhaps you need help with some other type of scheduling difficulty.
Regardless of the example, the more that you can work together, the better things will be for you and your child.
Every situation is going to be different. Don’t look at one coparenting unit and think that you have to be where they’re at or do things how they do.
Ultimately, each arrangement will be as unique as the family that makes it.
Just remember to put your child first, have boundaries, manage your expectations, and be a team.