Today I’m going to talk about co-parenting. I want to make sure to say this before you read on, I understand that co-parenting may not be an option for everyone. If it’s something that you are interested in, and do feel like it’s attainable, then keep on reading. I will share what I went through and how I got to the amazing co-parenting relationship that I’m currently in.
To give you guys some background (because I am in a pretty unique situation), when PJ and I separated, I moved out and we lived separately for a year. There was a lot of ups and downs in that year, I learned A LOT in that year. However, we’re currently living together but it’s not romantic at all, we are just two parents who are raising our child together.
He’s my best friend, I consider him my life partner, but there’s nothing romantic going on. I’m basically just raising my child with my best friend. He wasn’t always my best friend. That year things got ugly, things weren’t always picture perfect, but we did a lot of work in order to get to where we are now.
If you are interested in having a positive relationship with the mother or father of your child, I really hope this helps you because there’s nothing better than truly working as a team. What I am going to share with you will also apply for people who are not living together but I wanted to be upfront and let you know the dynamics that I am in.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
I had two choices.
One of the first things I realized was I really had two choices; choose fear or love, and I chose love. I decided not to fear the future, think about what ifs, think about all the possible horrible things that can happen with my son now that his father and I are no longer together. It was simply driving nuts.
I just chose to let go of all those possibilities for the future and just love PJ for PJ. And when I say love, I mean love him unconditionally, accept for exactly where he is in his life, exactly for who he is, what he is. I chose to accept everything about him. I don’t want him to change anything about himself and I have no desire to change him as they did in the past.
It’s important also know that just because you guys ended a romantic relationship, it doesn’t mean that your love story needs to end. I remember trying to fit myself into this box of trying to figure out what’s the perfect or typical co-parenting relationship. Should we keep it very businesslike where we just hand off the child, only speak about the child and that’s it, or do we have a friendlier relationship where we talk on a personal level about our lives? I was also trying to find the balance of how much to share about our personal lives, and how much to keep private.
Frankly, that was just a lot of work : / I found myself overthinking a lot, trying not to cross certain boundaries, questioning am I doing too much, and I am not doing enough, am I being a good mom by acting this way, am I being a bad mom by acting this way?
I sat with myself, did a lot of self-reflecting which allowed me the opportunity to think outside of that box and not feel like I have to be in this typical co-parenting relationship where it’s solely about the child. I tried this different approach and I figured out that’s what best works for me and my family. I decided what’s best for our family was to continue our love story, it’s just not the same love story I originally expected it to be.
Girl, are you actually happy?
I’m really happy about the way it ended up turning out because we get to show Jet what true love really is, well what true love is to me. It’s not necessarily about all the romance, intimacy, and all the lovey-dovey type of stuff, but we’re showing him a true partnership. We are showing him two people really working together for their family and doing it in a friendly, respectful manner.
Of course, we’re still affectionate towards each other, it’s just nothing that crosses the line. We still give hugs and kisses on the cheek so we do get to show him some type of physical affection but I think it’s awesome that we get to show him that it’s not necessarily all about the exclusivity, the labels, and being sexually intimate with someone. We get to show him that you can really love without that and still have a real partnership with someone, and real connection with someone too.
Forgetting a major key to everything.
Something I think that many forget throughout the emotions of heartbreak and going through a separation is that this other person is our family. I think we slap a label of “ex” and forget that they’re not just an ex, they’re still family. It took me time to get to that place where I had to stop viewing him as my ex, but it makes sense. We created a child therefore, we created this line of possible generations to come. It’s not like once he’s 18 that’s it, PJ and I will never speak again.
We’re still related, we’re still a family, there might even be a day where we’re going to be grandparents together, great-grandparents together, this is not something that ends at 18 years old for us. And with family there are ups, downs, fights, but there’s also making up. You want to have a good relationship with your family at the end of the day, I know I do at least, so I make the same effort with PJ as I do any of my other family members. I love him the same way I do any of my other family members.
I also have to be grateful because without him there would not be a child to begin with. Try to keep that in mind that this person even if it ended horribly, as ugly of a person they may be, they helped you create this child and for that be grateful. You can sleep at peacefully at night with that alone.
What I learned in therapy.
This was the BIGGEST realization I made when we were going through the ups and downs that year of figuring things out or trying to be the best parents, we possibly could be in the circumstances we were in. I learned this through my therapist (she does take call/video sessions in case you’re interested). I remember her explaining to me in one of our first sessions, it only takes ONE person to change the dynamics of a relationship.
In the beginning I was trying so hard to work on the relationship with PJ and I felt like I kept failing or I kept getting frustrated because I felt perhaps, he wasn’t trying as hard as I was. That was a fail on my end because one parent changes everything, it took me a bit to recognize that to be true.
If two people are acting the same way all the time and there’s friction, and one person decides to switch it up, the other person has nothing else to react to any more. It’s going to naturally change the whole entire dynamic as long as one person changes. I really hope that makes sense and let that really sink in.
You don’t have to depend on the other person to work with you, the other person doesn’t have to go to therapy with you, the other person doesn’t necessarily have to do anything. Now, will it be great if they choose to do so, and are willing to get the professional help if that’s what you want? Yes, that’s amazing, but if they are reluctant towards any type of work, know that you can change it.
Try your best not to focus on what they’re doing, figure out what you can do, let go of pride, ego, whatever it is but focus on you, forget about what they’re doing. I read a lot about conscious parenting (you can check out this AMAZING book here) because of something else my therapist mentioned, she said if there’s one conscious parent your child is ahead compared to other children. And I agree, if there is one conscious parenting, your child’s going to be fine, more than fine let me tell you. Learn more about that here.
I know it’s hard to not want to yank the other person like come on let’s make this work, let’s have this good relationship for our family, for our child, but if they’re not ready, they’re not ready. Do you, do your work, do what YOU need to do in order to make this a positive situation whether that is saying okay, okay, while they’re screaming and yelling, maybe you need to walk away during a heated discussion, whatever it is, you take you take control in the situation and you’ll begin to see, they’ll begin to react a bit to your change of behavior because they won’t know what to do anymore.
They were so used to you reacting and behaving a certain way that when you switch it up on them, they have to figure out and adjust how to react to you now. Slowly but surely, it’s going to get better. Even if it’s not the most perfect positive co-parenting relationship, when you go to bed at night, you’re going to have peace. If you are good, your child or children will be fine.
I hope that wasn’t too long, that is it for all of my tips and experience when it comes to positive co-parenting. I do think it’s possible, even though you may not be in the same kind of dynamics as me, know that it is possible to do, with your desire and your hard work I know it is attainable. Remember, you do the work. Don’t rely on anyone else.
Thank you so much for reading this really, it means the world to me. The fact that I have your attention right now speaks volumes. There’re so many other things you could be doing, reading, watching right now, and the fact that you are here reading about my experience means a lot.
If you have ANY questions at all on this topic or any personal questions on co-parenting for me, please don’t hesitate to ask. I would love to hear from you!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.