One year ago today, I wrote How To Deal With Your Baby Daddy, which turned out to be a wild success. It is still one of my most read posts. Many single and divorced moms AND dads reached out to me telling me how much they appreciated this guide to helping them deal with their child’s other parent. I was amazed by how much the post had made an effect on those considering a co-parenting relationship.
A lot has changed in the past year — I filed for child support, he filed for visitation, and our co-parenting relationship actually changed for the better because of it.
So I’ve decided to share some tips for those moms that have just started a co-parenting relationship or when co-parenting just doesn’t seem to be working…hope these tips help. Although I’ll be speaking from the perspective of having been in a co-parenting relationship for some time, please be aware that this can apply to any phase of your co-parenting.
1. Leave the past in the past.
Now, this is probably the single most difficult thing for me to conquer. I couldn’t let go of all the things that my son’s father had put me through and I would see him from time to time and have a rush of anger and anxiety. But as horrible as a boyfriend he was to me is as good as a father he has become to Micah. Although Micah still dreads going there, he always returns home with tons of stories to tell me with joy and glee.
2. Be firm and consistent in your approach.
Just because a year has gone by, don’t think that things have changed. They are still the same – however, we have both learned to manage each other. He has learned that I’m not backing down and that Micah is my #1 priority and should be the same for him, and I have learned not to get on his case for every little thing that he says and does. Together we have learned: Continue to focus on the task at hand — raising your child — and things will move smoothly.
3. Respect each others parenting styles.
All parents do things differently. However, that doesn’t mean that the other parent should be criticized for their parenting style. Always respect the other parent’s parenting style (in normal circumstances). Now, if your child returns home with a black eye or something crazy like that, then respect aside, you need to have, as I call it – “a come to Jesus talk”. But if your child’s father wants to feed your child cupcakes for dinner (yes, this really happened!), just let it go. Let your child have some fun, as long as it doesn’t make them incredibly sick. Ok, I think you got the ghist – respect each other’s parenting styles to a limit.
4. Don’t be afraid to get the courts involved.
Taking my son’s father to court was definitely a tough decision for me. However, I knew that I would be unable to get any form of financial support, consistent parenting time, or respect from him without the courts being involved. If you have a similar situation, don’t dread having to get the courts involved. Remember – focus on the needs of your child, not the irritation from your child’s father.
5. Happy mama means happy child.
This is a tip that I’ve learned over these past few months. Although I have heard numerous parents make this point, I didn’t believe it until I experienced it. Don’t make yourself miserable while your child is away. Enjoy some simple things in life – watch a movie, get your hair done, sleep in – you know, those things that you surely cannot do with your child around. You’ll feel relaxed and refreshed for when your child returns home. And most importantly, you’ll be able to tolerate seeing and talking to your child’s father when your child returns home. If your child’s father is anything like mine, you’ll completely understand what I mean when I say this.
6. Everything will be ok in time.
When I was in the midst of all the back and forth, frustration, yelling, angst, and headaches with my son’s father, I never thought it possible to see the end of the tunnel. I thought things would NEVER change. I didn’t believe that we would be where we are today. But surprisingly, co-parenting has been a success for at least the past 3 months. We have been progressing very well, and although there have been some unexpected hiccups, Micah is happy. Hey, that’s all that matters, right. So just know that there is a light to the end of the tunnel.
Well, I hope that these tips helped you even in a little way. I hope you embrace your potential co-parenting relationships and that you witness success. I pray that you see the light at the end of the tunnel and things change. I hope that you find happiness, both for yourself and your child.
I hope you enjoyed reading these tips as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Please make sure to comment with any additional tips or ideas that I may expand upon in another post. Thanks!