An open letter to all “normal” co-parents… by normal I mean a situation where both parents are safe and loving care givers.
Over the course of three years I have been involved in a few different single parents support groups/chat groups where people (usually women) can go to share experiences and advice. I have also been privy to many other divorce/custody stories through my mother who is a court reporter. She has worked on several intense custody cases and divorces. When a case is a matter of public record she has shared some extreme examples of bad co-parenting behavior. Basically I have heard a LOT of stories!!
There has been a lot of anger, bitterness and hurt felt by those who have faced their ex’s in court. It is only natural for a parent to want to have their child with them as much as possible. I understand this feeling, I sympathize with this. It is also very natural for someone who has felt “wronged” to feel it is not fair to “lose” something that is important to them. That being said I can get easily frustrated with numerous parents’ inability to see the big picture those who cannot step outside themselves to understand what is best for their child. Brace yourself, I am about to say something that may be hard to grasp for some…. But just because an ex is an asshole to YOU doesn’t make them a bad parent…. Or just because someone has left you, through an affair or because they fell out of love it doesn’t make them a bad parent. I am a strong believer in a child having a loving relationship with both parents whenever possible. It is not just my opinion; there are several studies and experts that will back me up.
Let go. My advice to all of those struggling with shared custody is let go. You can’t control what your ex chooses to do during their parenting time. Your child may have different routines and different rules at the other parent’s house, let it go. IF it is not a health or safety issue then try not to let it eat at you. Now there is nothing wrong with bringing up concerns in a civil manner, but don’t freak out if your requests are ignored. Also, it is NORMAL for child to cry at an exchange. They are going to miss you just like the miss the other parent when roles are reversed. This doesn’t mean they do not love both parents, it is just a hard situation for everyone. Most likely your child will be smiling and happy within 5 mins of your departure.
Take it from someone who does not have the option of co-parenting, your child is LUCKY to have both parents in their life. Stop holding on to hard feelings and embrace your new relationship. You are co-parents and nothing your ex has done (beyond of course safety issues) should affect you making your best effort to give your child the best childhood possible with two loving, civil parents.
Another piece of advice… when your child is spending time with the other parent try not to spend the whole time sitting around thinking about what they are doing. It is poisonous. Find an activity, clean, sleep in, paint, exercise, go shopping, see a movie, hang out with friends or just enjoy a good book. Let go.
*Though I have said it a few times already, this post is meant for those who have no concerns for their child’s safety. Every situation is different, but I see way too many men and women holding on to petty bitterness that in the end only hurts their child.*