Updated: Aug 23, 2020
What is Co-parenting?
According to The Michigan State University Extension co-parenting curriculum, “Together We Can,” defines co-parenting as “both parents sharing the responsibility for raising and parenting their children.” This looks different for each person and situation.
Terry and I started dating when I was 19- yes I was a baby! We met in college and became friends and eventually started dating and had our son Tristan in 2017. Tristan is now three years old. With time, we grew up and we unfortunately grew apart. But I found that having a friendship as our relationship’s core has helped our co-parenting relationship tremendously.
We loved each other for a long time. The love we had for each other is not lost; it just has changed its form.
When you move past the emotional hurt of a break up and heal yourself, co-parenting becomes very doable with your former partner. I feel that is because the love you once had for each other is literally all directed to your child (side note: Terry and I are pretty calm & low conflict people so take that into account). The most important thing to do when you are attempting to co-parent is grieve the relationship that was lost. I know that sounds weird... right? But think about it this way, when you've been together with someone for so long they become your other half and losing that completely is like losing your best friend. One thing that I found after my break up with my child's father is that I was really broken. In more ways than one, you go through the stages of denial, anger, and sometimes relapse. The upside is, you get to a point where you look in the mirror and you realize that not only is it better for you to heal and move on, but your child will be much happier because of it. Healing is defined as to make healthy, whole, or sound again according to dictionary.
Listen, communicate clearly and agree to disagree on things that do not pertain to the child.
Put your personal feelings aside and make decisions based off the well being of your child. The goal is to effectively work together as a team. I have learned that it's okay to let it out, be vulnerable and release it all. Each step of this process is essential to having a good co-parenting relationship.
The Emotional Journey
Don't rush this journey... I mean truly take your time to deal with every emotion mad, happy or sad head on. The emotional process has been a liberating experience honestly, when you start dating someone so young your life tends to become all about that person. You all have the same friends, you do the same things and sometimes you lose your sense of self identity because you are now a unit.
Some of the best/worst advice I received was to immediately "get out there" and start back dating.
You may ask, why? Mainly because you can not find happiness in other people, you have to have it with in yourself. So be cautious of who you take advice from, I know people mean well but take this time to get to know yourself. Dating is true work and living in a hook up culture makes it 20x harder. Mr. Right will come to you girl, once you are whole and ready to love. That's the main goal of healing is to become whole again. Here are a few ways I incorporate healing into my day to day to help continue to promote growth in my life.
Set boundaries for myself, with family, friends and colleagues.
Literally unplug from everything at 10:00 pm.
Identify one goal that I want to accomplish each day just for me and get it done.
Being vulnerable, does not mean weakness. It is okay to have flaws and not have it together all the time. As mothers, we feel it is our duty to make sure we are strong and that we are seen that way. In actuality, when admit your flaws, you can then start to improve yourself. Lewis B. Smedes said, "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you". Don't be afraid to ask for help or to vent to someone close to you. If you do not have people close to you to talk to, there are apps (i.e:AppClose, 2Houses-Coparenting, etc.) and Facebook groups (i.e: Co-Parents, Co-Parenting, etc.) that you could possibly join as well.
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”―Criss Jami
At this phase of healing, you are at a point where you truly have put your feelings aside for the sake of your child. You are finally walking the talk, you have released the feelings you once had and now you are ready to make new memories with your co-parent. I have also found that reading is very helpful when it comes to learning new ways to improve our co-parenting relationship.
Check out a list of my top three book choices for guidance with co-parenting:
Stay tuned for next week's post on Co-Parenting: Expectations vs. Reality!
Sources: Dictionary.com and Michigan State University.