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Wednesday
Mar192014

"What I Wish My Co-Parents Had Known": A New Series

One of the most common comments we receive about this site and our book is from adults who say, "I wish this had been around when my parents were breaking up."  We believe that kids and adults who are (were) co-parented are the real experts on how co-parents can help their children thrive after a break-up.  So below is the first in a series of blog posts from the point of view of teens and adults who were/are co-parented or raised by single parents.  In this series, we invite guest bloggers and interviewees to reflect on their experiences being raised by co-parents or a single parent.  

We hope that this process of reflection will be meaningful and beneficial to the participants and also encouraging, instructive, or otherwise helpful for the co-parents and stepparents who visit our site. 

Our first interviewee is C.

1. If your parents co-parented you during all or part of your childhood, what are 3 words you would use to describe their co-parenting arrangement?  They winged it.


2. What is one thing you wish your parent or parents knew about your life after they divorced or split up?  How the depth of their choices would affect me and my siblings.


3. What is one memory you have of the time not long after your parents divorced or split up?  My mom immediately dating again.


4. What is (was) the most helpful thing your parent or co-parent has done (did) to help you deal with living between two households or with any other aspect of the break-up?  My parents were the best example of what I wouldn't do when it came to parenting and how I've handled co-parenting now.  


5. What was (or is) the most challenging part of being raised by co-parents or by a single parent?  When being co-parented, the back and forth between my parents.  My mom was hell-bent on making my dad the bad guy in everything.  


As a single parent now, it would be distance.  Me and my ex-husband co-parent from different states because of military obligations.


6. Many people have misconceptions about divorce parents and single parents.  What are some things you wish more people understood about your co-parents, about the parent who raised you primarily, and/or about the parent who did not raise you primarily?  Being divorced doesn't have to be a crippling experience if both parents put the kid's needs first and never lose focus of that fact it could be a easy experience.  


7. If you were a co-parent, what would you do to help your kids deal with living between 2 households?  For me, we handle major things as a family even though we aren't together.  When he comes into town he stays at my home so that the kids have a family unit under one roof.  This includes the kids he's had since our divorce.  We take family vacations together with my new spouse and his fiance, along with our extended family.  We've built a village and the support system is amazing for, not just the kids we share, but for the ones he's had since our divorce.


8.  If you are now a parent or co-parent, how has your childhood experience influenced how you raise your child and/or how you interact with your child's other parent?  I communicate with my kids about everything that can or does affect them when it comes to family.  Their needs are #1, period.  I allow them to voice their opinions on all issues, letting them know we value them.  I'm not a "do as I say not as I do" mother.  I'm their example, and I want to be a source of positivity in their lives, not just because I'm mom, but because they know they matter.  


My ex and I both had difficult situations after our parents divorced, and we never wanted our issues to become [our kids'] issues. They never knew why we divorced until a year ago, when my youngest turned 18.  They saw two parents who did things together with them always. They told me they always thought we just grew apart because of military life, but not because my ex had a affair.  I never made that their issue, I never spoke ill of him.  


After divorcing, I was able to forgive, and we found that we were better friends and great at raising our kids.  I didn't get that when my parents divorced. My mom never had a good thing to say about my dad; she blamed him for everything. Then at 35, me and my siblings found out she was the cause of their marriage dissolving.  Funny thing is to this day she has no clue that we know the truth. My dad never said a bad thing about her, never once even though she didn't have a good thing to say about him.  


Though my childhood being a child of divorce wasn't particularly pleasant, it taught me to do better at parenting, and when faced with my own divorce, to be better instead of bitter at co-parenting.

 

Interested in contributing to this series? Contact us at info AT co-parenting101 dot org.

« "What I Wish My Co-Parents Had Known": Get Counseling When a Parent is Absentee | Main | "When Divorce Magnifies Adoption's Losses": Deesha's Essay in the NYTimes »

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