Posts Tagged ‘co parenting’

Taking the High Road While Co-Parenting During The Holidays

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My daughter couldn’t be more excited for the holidays. Together we’ve started decorating our home, a big red bow on our door, Christmas lights adorn our entertainment center, and Christmas carols help us get ready in the morning. A crucial piece of the holidays is the presence of her co-parent, who isn’t my biggest fan. Being involved in a high-conflict co-parenting relationship during the holidays isn’t always so fun. It often causes headaches and additional stress – and who really needs any additional stress at this time of year? Taking the high road to co-parenting during the holidays can be really tough, and requires you to stop thinking so much about yourself, and more about your child’s happiness.

During the season of joy and happiness, I spend a lot of time thinking about how best to communicate with my co-parent during the holidays. I find it hard to swallow my immense dislike for his usual unreliability and disrespect and assume he’ll play more a role in our daughter’s like during the holidays. But I try—for our daughter. For awhile I really thought the love of my family could blanket her heart with all the love she would ever need. I completely disregarded her father’s side of the family, every last one, based on her grandfather’s behavior and our continuously rocky relationship. I didn’t take into account the love they all shared for our daughter, and held them all accountable for her father’s behavior. Our daughter is amazing, and no I’m not just saying that because I’m her mom. There is something so wonderful about being in her presence, in seeing her smile, in being part of her warmth. She is lucky to have so many people who love her and want to spend time with her. And since I love her more than I dislike them, I take the high road during the holidays.

Read the rest of my post including my five tips on co-parenting during the holiday season over at The Cubicle Chick!



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[Co-Parenting Matters] Talking To Your Child About Your Ex

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As much as I have grown thorough my experience co-parenting over the past six years there are still much for me to learn.

I admit, I can be quite stubborn and there are certain things I will not budge on, and this causes severe tension between my co-parent and I. It’s fair to  say I hold quite a bit of anger towards him, which is quite unhealthy and has affected both my personal and professional life. Most importantly it’s affected how I communicate about him with our daughter.

I have the ferocity and strength of a mama bear protecting her cub when it comes to my daughter. And over the years I’ve felt the need to protect her…from her own father. Her little heart can only take so many letdowns and she shouldn’t cry over him and his broken promises. I internalize all of how she feels, and at times I feel like a ball of rage. At times feeling absolutely unable to console her or to make our overall situation any better.

When she talked about him, my body language changed, my eyes shifted and became just slivers. There was no conversation, she would talk and I would listen. But not really. One night while home watching the child he and I made sleep the night away, I wept. I wept for the man he wasn’t. I wept for her sorrows. I wept that I couldn’t protect her.

Read the remainder of my post over of The Young Mommy Life.



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Adventures in Co-parenting: Its. Not. About. You.

*First written for The Pushback blog*

This post was inspired by my friend Deesha Philyaw of Co-parenting101.org and her new book Co-parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households after Divorce.

When my seven year old daughter comes home from visiting her Father’s house she’s either overjoyed to see me, and ready to cuddle and share with me all the fun she had that day. Or, she walks by me without saying a word, throws herself on her bed and tells me how much she wants to live with her Dad. My daughter, the drama queen, usually reacts the negative way.

The thing that gets me is that I never thought she’d react like this. Why would she when she’s got me? I give her everything she could ever ask for. I sacrificed my anxiety (and some of our savings) to take her to Disney dammit! I’m the incognito tooth fairy who gently places a dollar underneath her pillow as she sleeps. I’m the one taking her to see the movies she wants, visit the parks she wants, making smores with her. I’m front row in school performances. I’m the one breaking my damn back to provide a roof over her head, good food in her stomach, and an abundance of toys and books. And SHE wants to live with HIM?

See what I just did there? Me, me, me. Though only seven, I find myself at times dumbfounded that she doesn’t see how dysfunctional and unsupportive her Father is and how much pain he causes her. The uncontained rage I feel when she tells me she wants to live with her Father frightens me. My body tenses. When her big brown eyes full of sorrow and despair look up to me, and her toothless mouth tells me she wants him not me, I crumble. Wait, you don’t want me? After all I’ve done for you? I feel defeated, as if all I’ve done to build a life for her has just blown away with the wind.

Co-parenting over the past six years has been the most horrifying and enlightening experience I’ve ever had. It’s no secret that my daughter’s Father and I are not co-parenting seamlessly. I’ve felt hurt, pain, disappointment, loneliness, and anger. I feel ever so protective of my child, even trying to shield her from her own Father.

But, it’s not about me.

Encouraging my daughter to talk about and engage with her co-parent was at one time impossible for me to do. Over my dead body would I let him infect her with his lies and instability. He was going to mess everything up, I was sure of it. It has been a rocky journey to stop feeling like the victim, to stop thinking it’s all about me. Because it’s all about her. My daughter. Our daughter. I needed to give her wings and allow her to love her co-parent and his family. She needed me to support those relationships, and I’m trying. I’m learning. Children are incredibly resilient creatures, and as most parents know, pick up on so much, even when words are not spoken.

The bottom line is: she loves her Dad. I want her to love her Dad. Her Dad loves her. And I love my daughter, so I will continue doing my best to support their relationship and provide a judgment free zone where she is able to talk freely and openly about how she is feeling in regards to him, because I love my daughter.

And because it’s not about me and my feelings.



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What’s been keeping me up at night

Well aside from my insomnia and sleep apnea….coparenting. Yes another post on coparenting from me. Co-parenting has always been something I have struggled with being a single parent. This past year has been an incredibly tough year for me and my co-parent and his relationship with our daughter. Our daughter is old enough now where she is severely affected when he is not around when he says he is going to be. Watching my daughter’s big brown eyes peer out the window waiting impatiently for her Dad, and him never showing up has shattered my heart into pieces. His previous absence and inconsistency really affected her, and as her Mother, I of course want to protect her and don’t want to see her hurting. 

I wrote a post titled What Scares Me About Co-Parenting, it was a very honest post about my concerns with this our usually dysfunctional co-parenting relationship. From the post: I am afraid that my daughter will grow up not trusting men. I fear every time she asks where her Daddy is.I fear that our daughter will resent me because I’m the tough parent and he’s the fun parent (when he’s around). I fear that she will grow up to be me. A worried child who felt like her Daddy didn’t love her. Because if he did he would surely want to spend time with me. He’d want to come around on birthdays, at my high school graduation, at the birth of my child. 

I’m glad I’m taking the time to be mindful of all these issues, but at the end of the day, she has me, and if I can say so, she’s pretty damn lucky to have such a passionate and loving mother. I can’t change her father; all I can do is keep the line of communication open with our daughter so she’s comfortable enough to have conversations about how she’s feeling. And we’ve had a few so far, they haven’t been easy for me, but they are important to have. It’s important to respect her feelings. This situation is difficult for her as well, and she needs to be able to have a voice. So while all these worries consume me at night, when I peek in her room and see her peacefully sleeping tangled between her favorite pillows, one foot hanging off the bed and snoring, I take a small comfort in knowing that I’m enough. 


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Are we promoting the idea that love comes without responsibility?

Raising a daughter, especially alone, I am very aware of the messages I am sending her by what I say and do, and what I don’t say and do. Co-parenting has its struggles, and one of them includes comforting your child when the co-parent isn’t around. Mommy, where is daddy? Why isn’t daddy around? Is Daddy working? Mommy, WHEN is Daddy coming? There is no worse feeling for me as a Mother to see my precious daughter sitting at the window, peeking through the blinds just waiting for her father’s car to pull up…but never does. My heart breaks, and as furious as it makes me, I clench my fists for a minute, then calmly soothe my daughter’s anxiety and tell her that her daddy loves her very much and is going to see her very soon.
But, something hasn’t been adding up for a while. I often wonder how she processes what I am saying and the actions (or lack thereof) of her father. He is clearly not around consistently, but I am assuring her that he loves her. But again…he is not around. I have begun feeling like I am promoting the idea that love comes without responsibility. I am afraid that these mixed messages are actually just confusing her more. I wonder how this will affect her in the future, and it makes me scared.
While our experiences have been different, I shared my concerns with the fabulous Natasha Vianna, a fellow blogger and friend. She is also raising a young daughter on her own, and I wanted her perspective on the idea of promoting love without responsibility.
Much like Alexandra, I feel overwhelmed with sadness and anger when my daughter’s tears are provoked by her father’s lack of presence. I also realize that I have played a major role in setting her up for a possible disaster. Whether she heard conversations over the phone I had with him or saw how frustrated I became when he didn’t show. She emulated a lot of how I felt. She saw my facial expression and my disappointment even though I tried to mask my anger. As a mother, the last thing I wanted was to have her little heart feel broken when I’d have to tell her that her dad wasn’t going to show up today.
A lot of that changed when I accepted that her father was never going to be my definition of an amazing dad. Instead of pushing for more, I realized that I would have to settle for what was 100% achievable now and work my way from there. So that meant only Sundays for them. Her father could guarantee his presence and I could guarantee her availability. And so it began. No tears. No sadness.
I also feel like a lot of what I want for my daughter is directly related to my experience as a child with my father. I grew up with a dad who only saw me once a week on Sundays. I’m sure there were times when he canceled, came late, or dropped us off early, but I really don’t remember. In my teen years I didn’t get along with him, then he became my best friend for a while. But what teenager always gets along with her dad? I told him how I truly felt about him sometimes and it hurt him. And my daughter will have that opportunity too. Her father can one day feel guilty for not being more involved, or maybe he won’t. He’s only being the father that he knows how to be. Do I support it? No. All I can do is support my daughter, how she’s feeling and tell her that it’s completely okay to feel the way she does. It’s not my job to mold a man.
Although I don’t want to promote love without responsibility, I also don’t want to promote love as a duty. I don’t want to define love for her. Love shouldn’t feel forced. If I force her dad to see her when he’s not mentally or emotionally capable, I’m only setting her up for more pain. She will sense the turmoil and feel like a burden in his life. I cannot expect her dad to make a huge flip overnight and decide to take her for more than one day a week, be completely consistent and reliable if he’s never been that before. He has to want that and he has to make that change on his own.
Until then, I give my child the best love a mother can, ensure she spends time with my dad who serves as a positive male, father-figure role and encourage her to be more vocal about her feelings when she’s with her dad. I empower her to understand that she deserves the best love in the world and she has so many different variations of it – close love from mom and distant love from dad. It’s tough but my sole responsibility is raising a happy child.


Visit Natasha’s blog HERE


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