Being raised with divorced parents, I never wanted my own child to go through the same thing. No one really wants it for their child, or for themselves. But life happens, and we make decisions that affect our circumstances. So here we are. My daughter, who is now 10 years old, has no memory of her dad and me being together. She sees photos, but he and I living apart is all she has ever really known.
Since our divorce nine years ago, my ex and I have done our best to ensure our daughter is taken care of. I separated from the military two years after our divorce and moved six hours away from my ex with our daughter. For the next few years, we met at the halfway point as often as possible for her to spend time at her other home with her dad. My ex and I both remarried, and our daughter gained a bonus mom and dad.
Fast forward to 2018, my ex and his wife got military orders and moved east, now 11 hours away. Again, we made it work. He flew back and forth to see her or pick her up for a while. Eventually, she started flying by herself, which has made things a little easier for everyone, and she loves it.
We’re far from perfect, but I can honestly say my daughter’s life with divorced parents is so different from my own experience and the co-parenting relationships I witness. I understand that everyone’s situation is different, and we all do what we can based on our circumstances. Either way, I believe anyone who is co-parenting can follow a few basic guidelines to benefit all parties.
Co-Parenting Tip #1: The child comes first.
Our child’s well-being is always the priority, physically and emotionally. This means our feelings about each other go on the back burner. Our differences no longer matter.
Co-Parenting Tip #2: Communication is key.
Whether you are the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent, maintaining open communication about your child is so important. My ex and I have always discussed our daughter. I keep him in the loop about her school, health, extracurricular activities, milestones, and anything else that comes up. I send him photos and report cards. Most recently, my ex, his wife, my husband, and I started a group text when we were having some behavioral issues with our daughter.
Co-Parenting Tip #3: Maintain consistency.
Our daughter spends extended periods of time with her dad and bonus mom during the summer and school holidays. Currently, she is living with them so her dad can be a “school dad” for a change. We have shared routines, chores, bedtimes, and rules so our daughter can have consistency from our house to theirs, ensuring the least bit of stress in her world.
Co-Parenting Tip #4: No badmouthing.
I grew up hearing my parents speak so negatively about each other, and I eventually felt like I wasn’t supposed to love the other parent. If my husband and I disagree with my ex and his wife on something or have an opinion about them, my daughter would never know. She will never feel like she needs to take sides or feel bad about loving any of us.
Our daughter has two homes: two rooms, two moms, two dads, a little brother, a little sister, and a few crazy dogs, but she has ONE family. And she is so loved.