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Co-Parenting: Expectations vs. Reality

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

Co-parenting with an ex can be challenging. Co-parenting has no one size fits all formula to success. You will have good days and you will have days that you just want to throw in the towel. I hate to tell you, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles. But hey! If you are committed to putting your child and/or children first you will have more good days than bad.

“This is probably one of the most difficult challenges any parent could face, learning to love the other parent enough to make the children first.” – Iyanila Vanzant

If you are a new single mom and new to co-parenting like me, the idea of balancing both can be overwhelming. But you are not alone… it will take time but you will figure out what works best for your child and ex. Eventually you will be able to do both effortlessly. All the thoughts and expectations I had of being a single mom and co-parenting were far from reality.

You know what I’m talking about — when you think an experience will be the absolute worst it kind of turns out to be functional. Many “expectation vs. reality” memes have been created on this very topic. I am no stranger to this common co-parenting pitfall, and here are a few examples of things that, although I wouldn’t necessarily say were not all true, were not what I expected them to be:

  1. It will be hard to agree on a parenting plan with your ex. Like I said all relationships are different but I've found that this is quite achievable when you set aside personal feelings. You can check out different parenting plans here.

  2. It will be hard for your child to adjust to the situation. Personally, I did not think I would have an issue with this because my son was so young. But no matter the age the child can definitely tell the difference from having both parents around constantly to just one. So try to be sure to love on your little ones a little extra during the first 6 months to a year. Learning to be patient with my son and understand that this is something new for him too has helped tremendously with this transition.

  3. Everything will be resolved when there’s a court order.Honestly a judge in a court room does not always mean things will fall in order. According to Psychology Today, some people choose to have attorneys hash out the divorce details in order to avoid the stress of family court. Ironically, that can be even more time consuming and expensive. If your story excludes involvement with children’s protective services (CPS) and law enforcement, it may be wise to go with a 50-50 custody schedule. Many parents believe the kids are better off spending more time with them, and while this may be true, asking the court to prohibit a parent from an equal timeshare, may be inviting more trouble and possibly sanctions.

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