Co-Parenting …or Not?

Tonight, is the boys’ last night visiting their dad after an 8-month absence.  I have talked to them every night, but just barely, which isn’t surprising given their ages. It hasn’t been terrible, and it certainly hasn’t been stress-free.  The hardest was when I practically had to beg them to talk to me on Christmas. I miss them, but more than that I worry about them.

I worry about what this visit is doing to their hearts?  How does it feel to see that dad has moved on with another family?  How weird is it to see him showing love to another woman?  These questions I will likely never know the answer to, nor can I expect that they even could put into words what it must feel like.

The harder issue, for me, this break, has been expecting parenting out of their father.  When we were still together, and even as we were in the process of separating, we had agreed on certain things (or at least I thought we did).  Snap-chat was a big NO for many reasons, largely influenced by the voices of parents that had gone before.  I also had certain expectations on what things could be watched (such as no MA shows).  Apparently, the rules flew out the window the second they arrived at his home because I have seen them do both…with his knowledge or due to lack of oversight.  Passive-aggressive emails ensued, and I should have known better than to engage.  I keep expecting my ex to behave as the man I thought he was, not the man he has shown himself to be.  It is just hard to observe and have not control over what is seen or heard when not in my care.

So, now the question becomes, how do I deal with this?  I used to think my ex and I could co-parent, but that requires two-way communication and he has been very inconsistent with when he choses to respond.  So, unfortunately, a lot of this is going to be placed on my sons’ shoulders (thanks, Mom, for the advice).  I am going to have some difficult talks over the coming months about trust and them earning and maintaining my trust.  Just because they aren’t with me, doesn’t mean my rules for our family fly out the window. I have tried to explain that the rules aren’t about being strict, but about protecting them – emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually, but as of now, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

In the meantime, I really need to let go of the idea of co-parenting.  He chose to move thousands of miles away from his sons and refuses to consistently engage in conversations about the boys, so I really shouldn’t be surprised.  I will hold up my legal end of the bargain, but beyond that, I need to make the decisions for my sons alone, and engage them in earning my trust.  We spent 8 years making decisions about our boys together, so it is hard to let go, but for my own sanity, I must.  Here is to re-establishing trust in the new year, of my sons, and of my own decisions as their mom.  And also, to laughter and love and finding our groove!

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5 thoughts on “Co-Parenting …or Not?”

  1. Co-parenting is tough … trust me. My three are now in their twenties but I divorced their father when the oldest was 7.

    I tried… well we tried to work together as a unit especially once he remarried but his parenting was opposite of mine. Emails turned into digs and mud slinging…. unresolved issues from the past would come up out of nowhere and then of course the kids would be dragged into it.

    Let me just say this, don’t put your kids in the middle. Bite your tongue when you want to lash out. Trust me there will come a time when the children will see for themselves who treated who like shit and who was more mature.

    By all means stand your ground but do it privately.

    It’s a tough road but you got this.


  2. This is one of the hardest things. My husbands ex-wife cheated on him, packed her stuff and the kids stuff while he was at work and left without telling him until she was on the road. She moved his kids 4 hours away from him with an “oh well” … but when my husband packed up and moved three states away a year later, suddenly he was the deadbeat and the bad guy.

    There are times she won’t let us have the kids, ‘just because’ … he calls them every other day, but she only answers once a week or once every two weeks. She purposely enrolls them in summer sports so it cuts into our seven week summer time with them. Last year we only had them for two weeks when the parenting agreement states 7 weeks. So, it’s back to court we are gonna have to go.

    Point is – as difficult as it’s going to be, co-parenting ….. just don’t drag the kids in the middle of it. That’s the most damaging. My husbands kids have told us repeatedly that their mom and her boyfriend tell them that their daddy left and abandoned them and that he doesn’t care. After years of hearing this, I finally sat them down and told them a very watered down version about how their mom took them away from their daddy while he was working. Was it wrong? Probably, but I’m sick of a good man being torn apart by childish ways.

    We have separate rules at our house as we are less strict that their mom is. Those kids get mistreated by her boyfriend and are always on eggshells at home. We provide a lot more relaxation for them. Things are going to be different between homes, so that’s to be expected.

    This is all a learning process. My daughters father and I co-parent beautifully, and have for 12 years. We have different rules between homes, but he and I have a respect and love for one another that makes it easier for our daughter. Whatever you do, just always keep the kids in mind.


  3. Thanks for this post. Unfortunately, my son’s father thinks I’m this villain because of lies that his wife conjured up against me. It’s to the point where my son is scared to be with his father because his wife told my son she had a firearm with bullets in it. What person would tell a five year old child that??!!
    So now, I’m dealing with that, but to him I’m the bad person. It’s hard to co-parent with a person who is attached to someone who is infested with hated and evil.


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