Co-Parenting – Moms and Dads Sharing Their Struggles (Part 1)

Co-Parenting - Moms and Dads Sharing Their Struggles (Part 1)

I love my husband more than life itself.  I found my perfect match, my soulmate when I met him. Not only do I love him, I love his two amazing children.

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I know he feels the same about me and my two girls. We blended together as a beautiful family and when we are all together under one roof, it is just us, there are no other parents and the world is amazing.  But, the reality, there are two other parents and we have to co-parent with them.  We often say if we didn’t have to deal with them our life together would be absolutely perfect.

My situation with my Ex-husband is easy.  He moved out of the country and our 15 year old daughter lives with me full time.  I keep him posted on important details related to school, medical and her wellbeing.  He leaves the parenting decisions up to me.

My husband’s Ex-wife lives almost an hour away and that creates some difficulties in the custody schedule.  The biggest co-parenting struggle we find is the difference in parenting styles. Even married parents can have different parenting styles and somewhere along the way you find a way to compromise, but when you are divorced the other parent doesn’t have to listen to you, with the exception of items addressed in the guidelines of your divorce.  Things like bedtimes, brushing your teeth, how to handle homework, and nutrition become decisions of the individual home, and they shouldn’t be difficult, but they can be.

Because we have a significant distance between the children’s two homes we often find the children are exhausted when they come home to us.  We stick to a consistent bedtime to make sure they get their needed rest.  They tend to do a lot of running around and at one point were involved in so many activities that they literally had no time at their other home. We were compensating for that by staying home and allowing the kids to enjoy just playing on the weekends, sleeping in and relaxing.

We found our children’s grades slipping from being so tired and not having enough time to do their homework because they were running around.  We spoke with teachers and put in extra effort with our children in the subjects they were struggling in. We were regularly spending our Thursday nights which was the children’s first night home with us getting caught up on the week’s homework so they could turn it in on Fridays. No fun for us, but important to keep the children on track.

The one thing we do know is when we say we put the children’s needs first we can stand behind that. We sacrifice watching a movie or playing games with the children to do what is necessary first, then if there is time we have fun.  It’s called being a parent and being responsible 

 

There are so many different types of Blended Families

Some Blended families are parents coming together that each have children, some only one parent has children and some have half siblings. There are adoptive families. There are foster families. Whatever way your family blended there is some struggle you face. I reached out to other Moms and Dads to see what they are facing.  I would like to thank every person that responded and took the time to add there information to this blog post.  

 

Here's what other Moms and Dads have shared:

 

When the other parent doesn’t try

From Jennifer Sikorski @ Glossy Babe

Our biggest struggle is co-parenting with someone who makes the minimum effort.  He takes our kids on his allowed visits and that’s it.  There are no phone calls, no ball games, no practices, and no dance recitals. We only live 45 minutes away, but he has lied to his friends, family and coworkers saying I took the kids and moved 3 hours away. It is hard to co-parent with someone that lies and refuses to communicate about what’s going on in our kids’ lives.

 

The perspective having been a child in a co-parenting situation

From Betsy @ betsy-blue

When I was 7 on my way to 8 (Grade 2 for the Australian), my parents got divorced. This is hardly an uncommon occurrence this day and age but that doesn’t make it easy.

I am 19 years old and when it first happened 11 years ago, my naïve young mind couldn’t comprehend the meaning of what was happening. However, in my father’s case, I don’t think he could either. He didn’t cope very well and while things started off well, it all went downhill over the years.

Initially the time with mum and dad was split almost 50 -50. There was no legal contract, they didn’t want that, it was simply an agreement they had come to. Things were good for a while, I remember dad taking us to school in the mornings and it was good.

Then things began to change. I don’t know what changed, but dad stopped having us. Over the space of the next couple years it dropped from 50-50 to 80-20 to seeing him every second weekend if we were lucky.

Mum handled it really well. Every time dad rang and said he couldn’t have us, mum would act so excited to get ‘bonus mum time’ with us.

The next hurdle in our lives was when mum started seeing someone. I had always been a ‘daddy’s girl’ and this new male figure in our lives threatened to replace him, at least in my young mind that’s how it seemed anyway.

So, we didn’t get along, my step dad (though they aren’t married it’s simply easier to call him that) yelled a lot. He had stricter rules than I was used to and while he wasn’t mean, his communication with an 11-year-old that hated him was understandably difficult.

The situation in seeing my father got worse over the next 6 years until I didn’t even go to see him anymore. My younger sister did, she still idolized him. Then he moved states without so much as a warning. From there he texted occasionally but would get annoyed that I wasn’t putting in effort. Eventually I gave up, he wasn’t trying so, why should I? I told him as much and then didn’t talk to him for 18 months.

In this time my relationship with my step dad improved greatly. He became my biggest role model and I’d figured out how to communicate with him well where grown adults still struggled to deal with his strong occasionally harsh presence. I will always be thankful for what he did for our family.

I was finally forced back into contact with my father when my grandad passed away. The night ended with him walking up to where I was sitting and yelling that he would always love me no matter what I thought. I kept silent and simply laughed at the obscurity of the act. These days we talk occasionally, a message on a birthday or Christmas or if my Nanna needs something.

It may not be the most dramatic tale. We weren’t abused or homeless or fought over. But it influences who I am as a person and I hope that someone benefits from hearing my side of the story.

 

When you lived through it and now you are doing it again as the parent

From: A blogging friend

The words every co–parent family hate to hear is ‘…you can’t tell me what to do, you are not my Dad’ – we heard that quite a bit. My daughters Dad was never in the picture…I don’t know what I was thinking when I met him – I was 18 yrs old and doing a music degree ( I think it was his rock band that made me think he was something he was not)  -Last I heard he was living in a squat in Germany, still in a band and doing all the things old musicians do ( if you know what I mean ) So I got pregnant in my first term at University ( not the best decision I have ever made )  and at the same time my Mum died of Sepsis and my Dad ran away leaving me and my sister. I came from a small city in Somerset – my Mum a teacher, my Dad a carpenter and a younger sister, not forgetting the dog Casper. This was the worst time in my life; I could not believe that my happy little family had just gone! I went back to halls at University, pregnant and suddenly on my own – like completely on my own.

I became a single parent at 19 years old, I had never even heard of benefits and I was a scared little girl holding a baby.  

My now husband moved in when my single child was 11 years old – 11 is a hard time anyway but  to bring in someone made it that little bit harder! We have had our ups and downs – but my daughter is now in her final term at University – ready to come out with a 1st! My husband and I live on a farm in Cornwall. The relationship between my husband and my daughter has become more like friends – he doesn’t really do the Dad thing. To be honest I class myself still as a single parent and I think I always will. I look at her now and think – Wow, we did it …not sure how but we did. I suppose what I am saying is no family is perfect and you create one that works for you and be proud of that – My Dad met an amazing wife, and they live in France and became a big part of our family, my sister became best friends with my daughter (online now as she lives in Australia) they Skype a lot!

 So my family looks a bit like this… 

A daughter who is funny, pretty and very clever, a Step Dad to my daughter who gets it wrong a lot and they fall out over things but the bottom line is they love each other and are friends, grandparents who live in France but come over to see her all the time, a party Skype Auntie and Uncle who with their two children are a massive part of my daughter’s life, A Great Grandma, who even at 93 works full time because she believes she is 30 and lives close to my daughter and loves being ‘part of the young scene’ and loves it when she has to open her front door at 3 am when my daughter and her friends have gone clubbing and they need a bed to sleep in. Our family is made up of step- parents, step- grandparents, far away family and a few ‘Auntie’s’ who are in fact good friends but are classed as family. We are not perfect but it works for us. Me, as a single parent … I think I did alright in the end!   

 

When they are His, Mine and Ours

From Donna at Bobsy’s Mum

For me I’d say the hardest part is just being in sync. We all parent slightly differently, even when your core values are the same. And when you’re not around to back each other up in can be tough to stay on the same page.

Just with small things like rules and routine. I think having a routine is really important, as are clear rules. It can be difficult to get them the same. Especially if you don’t get on that well, or when new stepparents are introduced who also have their own ways of doing things.

Our main struggle is my husband and I live with My boy, and our girl. We do it our way. My ex is actually quite similar and we still get on well. So generally it works. But, my Husband has 2 kids from a previous relationship. So, he has to parent mine like I do. But his like their mum does, or they go home “I don’t want to see daddy”.

This causes trouble for us, as to me it seems like he’s treating his children differently and I worry that when mine are older they will feel its favoritism. 

 

When there is no co-parent

From AnnMarie @ 15acrehomestead

My biggest struggle as a parent raising four children alone was learning to balance being the best friend and the disciplinarian at the same time. I wanted a close relationship with my children. I wanted them to be open and able to talk to me about anything. However, at the same time, I needed them to understand that I made the rules and that there had to be a level of respect also. That was the hardest thing for me as a single parent to accomplish.

My children were all within 2 years of age which made things much harder. They have all homeschooled also, so they were always with me. Finding a balance that worked for all four of them was tough. So I made sure the rules never changed, therefore they knew what to expect at all times. I made things pretty routine.

 In the end, I learned that you need to keep an open door of communication, while at the same time, instilling punishment for bad behavior. If they did get in trouble, there was a punishment, but we talked about why they were punished, and how it could have been avoided by different actions. I always ended my conversations with "I love you.", or "I am proud of you for learning and understanding." They are full grown now and our relationships are still strong. 

 

The differences

As you can see from the many different posts shared here, each of these Moms is facing a different situation. They have either lived it as a child, or lived through it as a child and now are doing it again, are raising children alone, have His, Mine and Ours, or working with a co-parent who just doesn’t try. No one situation is easier or harder it is just what they deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Raising a blended family can be very difficult, as the struggles above point out, but there are so many wonderful moments as well. We can find our blessings in all of those incredible moments. Most importantly a blended family is a bigger family with more people to love and who love you and I don't know about you, but I value that. My Blended Life Makes Me a Very Happy Wife.

 

Because I had so many great submissions for this post I am breaking it down into 3 posts.  The next post will contain submissions from Daniel from Diabolical Rantings of a Single Dad, Kate from Homebound but Hopeful, Shannon Mika from This Mom Shit is Hard, Kelly a beginning blogger and Jessi from The Coffee Mom. Check out Co-Parenting -Moms and Dads Sharing Their Struggles Part 2 coming soon.

Also watch for Part 3 which will follow and include posts from Ramona Jessica F. Nadong from Not Your Ordinary Girl by Mhow Chantel Boswell from Healthy Happy Mom Of Many, Ashley from AshHarvey, Jayme from Teacher Turned Mom and April at Runny Mascara. Co-Parenting – Moms and Dads Sharing Their Sturggles Part 3 coming soon.

 

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Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    What a great post! I am really looking forward to catching parts 2 and 3. I too experienced divorced parents and the back and forth between homes. Now as a parent I look back and see the experiences through My Mum and step Mums eyes. I look back and see that I didn;t always make it easy but that they loved me and supported me throughthe entire time. This is such a great topic and I loved reading all the different perspectives.

    thank you

  2. Catherine says:

    Co-parenting really does take more work and I could totally hear the kids saying "You can't tell me what to do you aren't my Mom" etc. Whew. Keep up the good work Mama!

  3. Caitlin says:

    All families have their challenges but you've shown how co-parenting situations can be extra complex.  I can imagine it would be frustrating to feel that

    1. Caitlin says:

      your structure and stability is being "undone" when they are with the other parent.

       

  4. Samantha says:

    I never thought about how difficult Co-parenting would be. I have no experience with it considering I am just now having my first child, and my parents were not divorced. I don't think I would be too good at it because I have very specific ideas about how I want to raise my children. Allowing my child's grandparents to help out is going to be hard enough for me.

    1. admin says:

      Congrats on having your first baby.  What you mentioned is probably one of the biggest contributing factors to the difficulties of co-parenting, that one parent has an idea of how to raise their children and no longer want to listen to the other parent or work with the other parent, its more about “getting back at” or “sticking it too” the other parent in extreme cases which causes unnecessary issues. In sitauations where the parents work together and put the animosity aside it works so much better.  From the other side, i have to remember as a grandparent not to over parent my daughter, sometimes its hard because its just an instinct, but i do my best and my daughter and i have a good relationship where she can gently remind me when im overstepping 🙂
       

  5. Kim says:

    As a single mom by choice, there is no co-parent, neither absent or otherwise.  I do not envy the co-parent situation.  In my circle most co-parenting in unevenly weighted with one parent putting so much more into trying to create stability for their children while the other gets to be 'the cool one' or 'neglectful' leaving everything good and bad sitting on one person.  At least in my situation I get to be the one voice (good or bad) for my children and let them be the priority.  Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy the wonderful family you build for yourself in whatever shape it takes.

    1. admin says:

      I agree with you and even though being a single parent must be so difficult at time, Im sure the rewards are amazing. The “unevenness” is very hard, we just remind ourselves that the children are the priortiy and always do what we can that is the best for them.

  6. Maria says:

    I cannot relate to any of this. But what I can relate to as a parent is always putting the kids needs first above all things. Co-parenting from what I've gathered from my own extended familys xperience is that it can be tough, but it can also work. It all depends on the level of communication and compromise both parties are dedicated to achieving when it comes to the children. Either way, it's hard because the parents have to parent and they all have their own way. The kids require consistency and to be able to routinely know specific ways with every parent. So for all the parents involved to come up with a solution that works for everyone especially the kids, it helps! I admire you! I admire the way you steer your life as a mom. It's tough, but you're better for it because you're still giving your best to your kids every time. Thanks for sharing. xo — Maria | https://imonmy.co

    1. admin says:

      Thank you for your sweet comment.  it surely is a work in progress whether you are a blended family or not, but a least when you arent apart you dont have all the extra animosity that can be built up from sepearted or divorced parents.  I feel for so many of the people that shared posts for this blog for me.  I feel i am very lucky and have a relatively easy situation compared to so many  The children do need to be the priority and the focus not the discord between the parents, but man sometimes its hard.  Thank you again for your sweet comments, they mean alot.

  7. Shannon M says:

    Familes come in all shapes and sizes as do parents, cleary! Looking forward to reading parts 2 & 3!

    1. admin says:

      So happy to have you as part of this collaboration 🙂

       

  8. Lexie says:

    I love that you share your family as an example. You make it all sound not quite easy, but definitely manageable and definitely worth it. 

    It's great to see stories from so many different families all put together. You are right that every family (blended or not) is different and every family is beautiful as long as it is filled with love!! 

     

    1. admin says:

      absolutely and nicely said.  Glad you liked the post

  9. AnnMarie says:

    Great article! Ive been looking forward to reading this and I am mot at all disappointed! Can't wait to read part 2! Glad to be a part of it…voted for you too!

    Will be sharing!!

    1. admin says:

      Thank you so much 🙂

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