Coparenting Advice for Modern Times
Watching my daughter grow into the person she is today, has been a life altering experience. But the true testament to her maturity has been manifested in my own experience developing her into a wonderful human.
“The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behavior. The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behavior.” — Andy Smithson
Parenting is not easy as is being a child in a co-parenting setup. Most of her life, my daughter has known how it is to live at two houses with her parents attempting to give her the structure and development she needs.
From a young age, Olivia, my daughter, got to see her parents get separated and transition into the role of co-parenting. Growing up is hard enough and to throw a child into split up parents situations means things can get messy, very easily. However, for my experience we did a pretty f***ing good job with the first 9 years and we have 9 years to go until she goes off on her own.
This idea of raising a child in two separate homes was not a decision that was made lightly, but when you are a parent, you put aside your own desires and focus on your child. More recently, I was reminded of this notion of putting my child’s progression ahead of any other concerns I might have.
For anyone that has signed their children up for sports you know the cost and time commitment. Signing my daughter up for cheerleading was the most expensive and time consuming sport she has ever wanted to do. Quite frankly, after her performance from soccer a year early, I was hesitant to put forth the investment.
But, her mother made the case and I settled only after dragging my feet on the whole situation. Tensions arose but I was reminded again that it was not for me or my daughter’s mom to decide but for Olivia to make the decision to commit. Commitment can be one of the greatest lessons in life.
I was wrong to deny my daughter of cheerleading, which has made her the happiest she has ever been. How could I predict the outcome? It’s simple:
Trusting in your children’s passion can lead to the best experience.
Bringing me back to my point about co-parenting, putting your children first is the only strategy that works. By no measure does this define the entirety of your parenting skills, but ensuring your children’s interests are met is a core tenant to develop your child... the right way.
This has been the foundation of our co-parenting relationship since we separated. Olivia always sees our commitment to her and when we disagree she doesn’t know it.
“Children close their ears to advice but open their eyes to example” — Anonymous
There is no sense showing your child the discontentment or anger you might have for the other parent. It’s not productive. In addition, this type of behavior gets duplicated by your child. Thus, showing children a negative trait can have a horrible outcome. I am sure anyone can attest that children copy their parents, whether good or bad behavior. Maintaining positive actions can have a domino effect in the long run. Stay true to this type of constructive behavior.
On another note, there have been times where my daughter’s mother and I have not come to the same conclusions or be perfectly on the same page, mainly because of miscommunication, which I have an issue from time to time. Needless to say, open transparent communication is a must.
On multiple occasions, when determining the best schedule for my daughter, there has been a disagreement and then boom. It’s like the end of the world. While most people can have intelligent conversations, we don’t always consider the place where the other person is coming from.
Understanding context can be a major issue in communication. Looking back and analyzing different life experiences, context is a major variable that may get overlooked. Nowadays, attending to this detail has provided me with great success as a father, co-parent, husband, brother and friend.
Understanding a person’s context changes your own perspective and enlightens you to their point of view, something that has allowed me to be an effective communicator for both my wife and my daughter’s mother. These relationships are not always easy to cultivate or progress.
Commitment, productive parenting, communication and context are very important factors in co-parenting, but there is one last piece I have found to be essential: ACCEPTANCE.
Separate families are not ideal for birthdays and holidays or for your extended family. You have a family that is not what you see in movies. We are not the perfect model for an All American family but then again who does. There is always someone in our family that has a problem with changing a holiday but we share holidays. This is our reality.
But that is what we do and who we are. Own that experience.
I have truly loved the experience of raising my daughter and now with my second wife, I get the opportunity to continue on as a father to both my daughter and our new addition, Stetson.
Parenting is not easy. But the best things in life are never easy.