I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of the Co-Parenting collaboration post. My apologies for the delay in between posts as I was sick and needed some surgery, but I am doing much better now. I'm so glad you have joined me for Co-Parenting – Moms and Dads Sharing Their Struggles (Part 2). In Part 1 of the post I shared insights from Jennifer from Glossy Babe, Betsy from Betsy_Blues, Donna from Bobsy’s Mum and AnnMarie from 15 Acre Homestead and a Blogging Friend. Each of these Moms is facing a different situation. They’ve 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 are working with a co-parent who just doesn’t try. In today’s post you will meet a new group parents who are facing their own struggles.
For my family we struggle with the almost 1 hour drive between the children’s two homes. For the last year and a half I have driven on Thursday afternoons to pick my bonus children up from school. On Friday morning I drive them to school, come back home and then go back down in the afternoon to pick them up. It is a total of 6 hours in the car because I love them so much. It makes attending anything at school harder. Parent-teacher conferences, concerts, sports events, assemblies, and field trips, but we do it because it’s for them. In fact a couple of weeks ago I drove down to the school at the crack of dawn to attend breakfast with my bonus daughter for her community day. It is truly a blessing that she asked me and there was no way I would miss it. It certainly would be easier if they lived in the same town and went to the same school district as my daughter who lives with us, we are hoping that will change soon. I do believe in my heart that these wonderful bonus children of mine will look back and say “there was no doubt she loved us, she did the best she could for us”. I know my girls feel that way about my husband.
Here are some other parent’s thoughts:
From a Dad’s point of view – being the bigger person will always be what’s best
Daniel from Diabolical Rantings of a Single Dad
My biggest struggle when it comes to co-parenting with my daughter's mom, is putting the past behind me and remaining cordial for the sake of our child.
Let me give you a little background on my situation. My relationship with my daughter's mom ended only a few months after finding out she was pregnant. We made a few attempts to reconcile, but it just was not meant to be. So by the time my daughter was born, we had pretty well concluded that we were not going to be raising her as a couple. By the time she was a month old, we had already been to the Attorney General's office to have papers put in place dictating just how much time I was allowed to spend with her.
Over the next three years, it was a constant battle to remain involved in my daughter's life, while her mother fought me every step of the way. Nothing I ever did was enough to appease her. She constantly refused to allow me to exercise my visitation, so I quickly had to learn what my legal rights were when it came to enforcing my court order. There were periods of time when I went weeks without seeing my daughter. Every time I went to pick her up, I ended up being forced to call the police and then convince them to make a report. In the end, I had almost 20 police reports filed against her for denying my visitation.
At one of these exchanges, things got heated between us, meaning that she was yelling at me and I was pleading with her to just let me take my daughter. The next thing I knew, I was being shoved against a car and punched repeatedly. This was not the first time things had gotten physical between us. There had been other instances where she hit me or pushed me, but up until this point I had always let them go. However, I had sworn to myself and to my family that if it happened again I would do the right thing and call the police. Imagine my surprise when after the police showed up and spoke to each of us they informed me that I would actually be the one charged with domestic violence.
Apparently, my ex had lied and convinced the officers that I had hit her. She immediately went to court and requested a restraining order against me, which was granted with no consideration that she might perhaps be fabricating the entire thing in an attempt to gain the upper hand in an impending custody battle. Once she had the restraining order, she filed a request with the court to completely remove my rights to my daughter.
During the custody battle there were other very serious false allegations made against me in an attempt to rob me of my rights to my daughter. This sent me spiraling into some pretty severe depression, which only made the two year custody battle more difficult and emotionally draining. It turns out that as a man in family court, you are basically forced to prove your innocence, rather than the other party having to prove your guilt.
Luckily, in the end, I was granted 50/50 custody of my daughter. Almost immediately, as soon as her mom realized that she no longer had that power over me, our relationship changed. Exchanges which had once been stressful and anxious suddenly turned into 30 minute conversations where we laughed and exchanged stories of things our daughter had said or done.
We still occasionally have disagreements, but situations that would have once led to yelling, are now handled with mutual respect for each other. I have forced myself to just try and forget the false allegations she made against me, and the hateful things she said to me in the past. I would be lying however, if I said it was easy. It isn't easy – it's incredibly difficult. Every time I see her, my first instinct is to hate her for trying to damage my relationship with my child. But I know what is best for my daughter is for her parents to be amicable and get along. So I swallow my pride, paste a smile on my face and talk to her like a friend, because that's the kind of relationship my daughter deserves to see between her parents.
When you can’t provide what the other parent does
Kate from Homebound but Hopeful
Our biggest challenge in terms of parenting right now is with regards to the idea that different houses have different dynamics. My son is 6 1/2, so he’s starting to really notice the differences between his father's home, and my home. At his dad's house, he has dad's attention 24/7. Dad doesn't work during his parenting time, so he can really give our son all his attention- which is wonderful while he's there. But because there is a toddler in my home, and I'm also essentially working a full time job from home, my oldest can't get that same amount of attention all the time at my home. It's disappointing to him at times, and I know he does his best to adjust as he moves from home to home- but I know some days it's not easy.
When discipline is the issue
Shannon from This Mom Shit is Hard
Navigating the blended family is among the hardest things I’ve ever done. With my hubby bringing one, me bringing one and then having one together, I’m thankful that we’ve managed to mix fairly well. My kids all adore each other despite the seven years between each of them. But it hasn’t always been sunshine and roses. In blended families everyone brings their own baggage and it impacts our lives at unpredictable times. For us, it’s discipline.
Our oldest, who I refer to as #1, is the product of divorce; #2 lost his dad as a toddler and then there’s #3, with the intact parent team. I met my hubby when #1 had just turned 12; mine was just 5, thrusting me straight into parenting a tween without the benefit of experiencing the elementary years with him. Add to that, balancing our discipline with his mom’s lack of it and it was tough.
But we made it through.
And then #2 got older and now, I feel like my hubby and I are at odds all the time. I think he’s way harder on #2 than he ever was on #1, an accusation he vehemently denies. He thinks I just want to be #2’s friend, an accusation I vehemently deny. My hubby maintains that we didn’t have control over #1 because of the two households. And while it did make it a hard situation harder, it also made it easier to throw up our hands. Which would be okay, but now, “we” are unwilling to throw our hands up with those same exact things with #2…and it makes me nuts.
It’s so hard not to take it personally; that feeling that he’s treating my kid differently than he treated his own. He likely feels the same way. Ultimately, we want the same things, to raise good kids, but finding common ground when it comes to discipline – it’s a constant struggle.
When your parenting styles differ
Our biggest struggle is hard to put in one word or sentence. For instance my philosophy is to trust my kids until they give me a reason not to trust them. Their phones for example, he believes we should check their texts or internet use and I feel it's their privacy unless I am concerned about something. I guess he assumes the worst and I assume the best. We need to meet in the middle somewhere. I can be naive and he can be…well whatever the opposite of naive is lol. I still like to believe kids need to be kids and learn and explore through the years they are growing up. He wants to protect them in every way possible for the off chance of "the worst" happening. In some aspects he is probably right and we could avoid some huge thing happening but in others I feel kids need to learn for themselves and learn from their mistakes or bad decisions. He's way more consistent then me so he wins most the time, which is one of the many reasons I love him so much because consistency is a huge role in parenting!
When you’re the child of divorce
Jessi from The Coffee Mom
My parents divorced when I was very young, so I never knew anything different. Two houses was the norm for me. Thankfully, my parents did an amazing job co-parenting, even when they didn't get along I never saw them argue. Everything was in my best interest. As I got older there was no "my weekend or his weekend". It became wherever I wanted to be that weekend. Family reunion at dad's on mom's weekend? No problem, I could switch it.
Now that I am older and a parent myself things have changed a little bit. While my parents are still fine with each other, there have been times where scheduling holidays and birthdays have been stressful. Trying to take the kids to see EVERYONE on any given holiday can make the entire day miserable and long. My husband's parents are divorced as well, but they had nasty one, adding another layer of difficulty to the pot. I eventually decided that we would have one birthday party and everyone could come. If Father in law didn't want to see mother in law, or vice versa, well sorry about your luck because this isn't about you! Thankfully, everyone is civil and will show up.
It is funny, because my mom doesn't care to talk to my dad, but she loves my stepmom. My stepdad can be seen having a drink and chatting it up with my dad and father in law and all seems good in the world. We are still working on mother in law, but she is coming around. We try not to use the word "step" often in my family. My parents are my parents, my siblings are my siblings, blood or not. My kids don't know any different, they just know family and that is how I want it to remain.
Being a child of divorce can be difficult, even when your parents get along, but being the grandchild I feel can be even more difficult because they don't understand it yet.
Again you can see that each situation is so different. We have Daniel from Diabolical Rantings of a Single Dad who gives us a Father’s perspective of trying to be the best Dad possible and working to put the best effort forward even when he isn’t getting that in return, Kate from Homebound but Hopeful can’t give as much as the co-parent and that just leaves you feeling like you’re competing all the time, Shannon from This Mom Shit is Hard who finds discipline an issue in her home and you definitely cant parent for both homes when the co-parent isn’t, but also trying to have consistency with all the children no matter whose child they are. Kelly finds the parenting styles within her home differ and that creates turmoil for anyone, it can be an issue just a much in a home as it can be with a co-parent out of the home, and Jessi from the Coffee Mom who has lived through it from a child’s side and is still working it out as an adult, thankfully the parents have done their best to not let their differences impact the child, but the logistics of spending time with all of your family who are now blended can be a nightmare.
I know children are resilient and can stronger than we think, but it sure would be nice if we could just remember to put the children first, not our differences or disputes with the co-parent. I know that is easier said than done in so many cases. Jessi’s parents certainly were able to make that situation the best they could. You don’t have to like your co-parent to do right by your children. I do know that children see and hear more than you think they do and they will figure it out for themselves. I would much rather have my children see all the positive things I did, Karma is a “you know what” and it will bite the right people in the butt when the time comes.
We can see common themes, but how it affects each family is truly unique. I have one more set of parents who have shared their insights and we will see those contributions in Co-Parenting a Collaborative Post with Moms and Dads Part 3. Bloggers Ramona from Not Your Ordinary Girl by Mhow, Chantel from Healthy Happy Mom Of Many, Ashley from AshHarvey, Jayme from Teacher Turned Mom and April from Runny Mascara. Co-Parenting – Moms and Dads Sharing Their Struggles Part 3 coming soon.
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