Saturday, July 16, 2016

Coparenting.. its your responsibility.

I have some pretty strong beliefs when it comes to parenting after a divorce or parenting as a single OR remarried parent. First of all the only way on earth you can co parent successfully is to drop ALL of your freaking resentments of the past. It no longer matters WHY you got a divorce, why you are not with the other biological parent, or even if you like them at all. Do you love your child? Do you think your child loves their other parent? (If you answered no there you are dead wrong..) Do you want to live miserably and fight over every single thing for the next 18+ years? Do you not think your child KNOWS you argue over them? (If you answered no.. your again dead wrong kids not only know but they get more than we give them credit for..) How do you think the way you are acting models for your child's future as sadly the statistics say that our kids follow the same paths we do and do you want your child to have to live like this as an adult?

Let me give you some history on myself.. My parents were married for almost 38 years. They met after both having two failed marriages, dated less than three months, married, and had me not even a year later. My dad swore to me on his death bed that he NEVER cheated on my mother, and though life was not always easy (see my blog posts about PTSD) that my mother was the love of his life and he knew it from the moment he met her. My parents modeled for me a loving marriage where kissing, hugs, and affection was shown to me daily. When I set out on this journey I swore I would never be that person who gives up on a marriage when kids are involved and I would do what it takes to make it work. Life didn't see it that way for me... I married young to a man who was my best friend at the time. My first marriage was good for the most part, we loved each other, we enjoyed each other's company, but we did not see eye to eye on kids and the romantic spark was just not there. I honestly think I married to stop the cycle of moving all the time and because I wanted to be independant. That marriage ended very amicably and I only regret now we
are still not friends. My second marriage (to the boy's father) was a whirlwind... we had a very strong attraction to each other but almost from the beginning there was no real affection. I got pregnant with Connor as an oops well before we married and I really strongly believe we only married because of him. We had a lot in common but we just couldn't get it together and I don't think either one of us was really ever happy. I could tell you stories of the bad things that happened in our marriage and I could tell you stories to make him look like the bad guy and I could tell you stories that would make me look like the bad guy... but in all honestly we were both really pretty awful to each other those last few years. We both tried to make it work, but never at the same time, and we both loved our kids and both felt it was wrong to divorce. With all that said when Connor was three years old sitting in the back seat of my car he said to me "Mommy, if you want to divorce daddy it would be totally ok with me. You deserve to be with someone who will love and kiss you like I do.. and Daddy deserves to be happy too..". See.. Kids GET IT.. I rarely if ever fought with my ex anywhere near my kids, but we also never showed each other any sort of affection in front of the kids. When we decided to call it quits we were both very hurt and very angry but we pulled it together and sat down and decided collectively that we would talk it out, decide what we wanted to do, and never again throw any of it in the others face again. And strangely enough we did just that... after years of being married and rarely even talking we sat down like adults talked it out and we decided all that matters was from here on out we would be good parents together. So far almost a year later we have held to that bargain and I hope we keep that relationship forever because our kids DESERVE it.

Here is the thing people.. your kid do not want you to throw the past constantly back up into their world. Those hateful conversations you have secretly in text, the sly comments, the anger. ALL of it translates into their life. They do not want to have to choose sides, feel guilty in loving either party, or even in loving a step parent, grandparent, or other people in their lives. And pending that one of the parents is a criminal, mentally unstable, doing drugs, or otherwise a danger to them they NEED both their parents and in this day and age they could use all the adults in their life they can get that will have their back. You may think your "punishing" the other parent by petty nonsense by cutting visitations short, by trying to exclude the new step parents, by not inviting family to a birthday or even that any of this is justified because your ex did something to you... but you are punishing your child far more than your punishing the other parent. When my ex calls me and asks for the boys extra time for ANY reason or he can't take them for any reason.. or really if he asks me for virtually anything I bend over backwards to give it to him. My only rule of thumb is if all the kids are together we try to keep them together or if we have something special planned. Why? Because it's what's best for my kids. 

With Joe's ex things are not that simple. There is so much anger still that baffles my mind and hurts my heart. I know the relationship I have with my ex is the exception not the rule... but I just cant fathom it being any different. I could be her... I could be angry.. My ex is seeing someone who I've not yet met but he genuinely seems happy to be with. I knew he was seeing someone well before he told me because I saw him smile in a way I've not seen.. well ever. I could be mad because it wasn't like that for us... but you know what? I was THRILLED... I was thrilled because his happiness spills into my kids lives.. I want him to be happy.. I want him to be productive.. I want him to be a good dad and if he is miserable I also know from experience he's not half the man he could be. I could be angry because before the divorce happened I was ganged up on in a way a mother should never have to see or hear... I could be mad for all the things that went wrong in our marriage.. I could be bitter and spiteful... and miserable. But if I was I wouldn't be able to have a healthy and loving relationship with my current husband, I would not be a good mom (as I also know from experience that when I'm miserable I am not the parent I an be either.) and it would hurt my kids far far more than I could ever hurt my ex. And I am not putting any words in anyone's mouth... The reason why the relationship with Joe's ex isn't the same isn't for me to say. I could speculate all day long as to why we can't get along in the same way and I hope that we do at some point get there. It works to the point that things follow the court order... and it all happens.

The point is.. if you are out there reading this and you are in a situation where you are dealing with another parent in a custody situation that is less than ideal.. STOP before you open your mouth and think. You job as a parent is to do what's right for your child even if that means playing nice with someone that you may otherwise not really want to. Even if your relationship with the other parent is awful and you'd rather stab yourself in the eye than make that visitation switch... STOP... I guarantee to you that your child loves their other parent and every ounce of anger you pour into the situation is anger directed at HALF of your child's heart. By letting go and moving on you are not only doing yourself a favor but you are allowing your child to be happy. 

I know someone is out there reading this and is like.. "but my ex is doing drugs, my ex can't have a stable relationship and is dragging men/women into my kids life, my ex is a criminal, my ex is crazy (and I do not mean just drama prone I mean actually crazy), ect ect ect." Ok.. so maybe? So how can you make it easier for your child to love that parent even if there is a problem? I'm not saying fold into a dangerous situation but I am saying in an average situation where both parents are fairly responsible human beings swallow your pride and support each other for the sake of your kids! I guarantee to you no matter what happened in the past (and let it be that forever) that happy parents make for happy kids. And yes that sometimes means being happy for a exs new relationship or life even if that only means your happy that your child will get to see their parent happy. I can't say that one day when my kids have a new step mom (and I hope honestly it happens) I will always be thrilled and won't sometimes be jealous (not of someone with my ex but because I know if that person is good to my kids they will love her..) but I will be thrilled if she has their back and supports them. I only want my boys to grow up to be good men who love their future families and know how to be a good dad/husband and I hope one day to have future happy daughter in laws so I won't have to watch my kids go through some of the stuff I went through. That is my responsibility as a Mom to raise men (and a woman) who will be successful and be happy.  My success is not measured in how much money they make as adults or even if they graduate college. My success is measured in them becoming happy, healthy, mentally stable functional adults who will then raise grandkids to be the same. I've been wealthy and I've been poor and I will tell you happy has far more value than any money can bring.


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