I’ll be honest. I did not always enjoy being a single parent.
For the first few years I constantly asked myself “why did I have a baby with him?”
It was never a question about my love for my daughter. I just wished there was a way I could have her without dealing with the drama and heartache of a failed relationship.
I’m sure I am not the only single parent that’s felt that way.
With close to 12 million single parent families in the United States, co-parenting is becoming the new “norm”. Whether never married, divorced, or separated, more and more Americans are having to learn how to coexist for the sake of their children.
Take it from someone who’s living it firsthand, it is not always easy!
Figuring out how to co-parent can be one of the toughest challenges any newly single mom (or dad) will face.
While you may want to do what is best for your kids, it is difficult to work together as a team with someone you no longer have kind feelings towards.
Still, successful co-parenting is very much achievable in most situations.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to co-parenting but here are three practical and positive steps you can take to help improve your circumstances.
Tips to Help You Become A Better Co-Parent
Tip #1: Resolve your feelings from the failed relationship.
Healing from a broken relationship is difficult. Healing from a broken relationship which produced a child, well that’s an ordeal unlike any other.
So how do you move past your hurt feelings when you still have to maintain some form of contact with the person who caused them in the first place?
The short answer is you must be honest about how you feel and be willing to do whatever it takes to become emotionally whole again.
A lot of times people will tell you your feelings don’t matter anymore and that your focus should be on raising your child.
While that is mostly true, your unresolved issues from the failed relationship can negatively impact your parenting skills.
Whether it’s speaking to a family member, a close friend, or a professional counselor, it’s important to have someone trustworthy you can open up to about your feelings.
But don’t just talk to rehash the pain.
As you’re working through your emotions, the goal should be to make peace with the circumstances surrounding the breakup.
Ultimately, that peace is what will allow you to work side by side with your ex in raising your child.
Tip #2: Choose your battles wisely.
So you’ve found that peace you were looking for and you no longer resent your ex for what he (or for the single dads reading this, she) did to contribute to the demise of the relationship. Does that mean it will be smooth sailing from here on out?
Chances are you and your ex had some major differences which caused the split. And those differences are very likely to surface again in your parenting style. But before you nitpick every single decision your ex makes, ask yourself two important questions:
“Is it really worth the fight that may ensue.” AND “Is this something I should just let go?”
If your former partner’s decisions does not put your child’s life in danger, or if they are not directly contradicting the values you are trying to instill in your child, then it’s generally in your best interest to not make a big deal out it.
(Easier said than done…especially in the heat of the moment…yes I know, but just hear me out.)
Though you may be tempted to highlight every grievance, you have to learn how to walk away for the sake of preserving the peace.
Remember you still have to work with and see your ex on a fairly regular basis.
Whether it’s dropping off your child for weekend visits or attending school events, it makes it much easier to coexist and co-parent when you’re not constantly fighting over trivial matters.
Tip #3: Make the best out of your situation.
I think it’s safe to say you didn’t intentionally set out to be a single parent. And even though life did not pan out the way you envisioned, you must still put on a brave face and show up everyday to the most important job of your life.
As a single mom myself, I know how extremely tough that can be.
It takes a daily dose of faith, strength, grace, courage, and patience among other things, just to keep things afloat.
But even though things may not have ended well with your ex that does not mean your parenting journey has to be tainted or regrettable.
It will take some creativity and effort on your part, (like rearranging schedules or starting new traditions for the holidays and on special occasions) but you can enjoy life as you co-parent.
Both mothers and fathers play important roles in the overall growth and development of children.
Both possess different yet equally necessary capabilities that can help improve a child’s life significantly.
The challenges you may face in your co-parenting journey will be more than worth the effort as you see your child’s life blossom because they have a healthy relationship with both their parents.
Remember, whether single or not, being a parent is one of life’s greatest joy! It is a gift not everyone gets to experience.
Don’t allow anything or anyone to make you miss out on the moments you will never be able to replace or replay.
I’m rooting for you. Good luck!
Single moms (and dads) how do you navigate co-parenting? What are some of the tips and tricks you’ve picked up along the way? What did you have to learn in order to successfully co-parent? Comment below and share your advice!
*Source: U.S. Census Bureau – Table FG10. Family Groups: 2015