Most of my women friends are single parents. Not surprising, right? Especially given the grim statistics for romantic relationships or marriages that last forever. For marriages, I’ve been hearing the same stale rate for years – 50% of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.
What happens to the children of those dissolved relationships? If they’re lucky, they wind up with two parents who, despite their separation, are fully invested in doing what’s best for the children without allowing their emotions or egos to get in the way.
What does an ideal co-parenting situation look like? Two separate households where children are shuttled back and forth for weekly visitation and alternate holidays? Does it look like the exes taking family vacations together with their children and leaving current spouses at home? Should either adult continue to frequent their ex’s home? Spend nights there for the sake of the children? Be “besties” once they’re broken up? What about new love interests? How do they factor in? Does everyone involved just become “one big happy?”
It takes time to heal emotionally from any break-up. How we handle it and how we proceed depends on any number of factors – the reason things ended (was there infidelity?), the adults’ emotional maturity level, and their ability to forgive, personality differences, etc. Some people allow their new husband or wife to dictate their relationship with their ex and their children. And let’s face it – some people just get really nasty. Divorce and separation can bring out the worst in us.
But in what we might consider a healthy co-parenting situation – meaning both parents are amicable to one another and put the interest of the children first, what are some boundaries that need to be set? Especially once either adult enters a new, serious relationship?
Could you tolerate your new love being good friends with his ex? Visiting their home? Spending lengths of time there during holidays and birthday (the kids’) celebrations? Having lengthy conversations on topics that have nothing to do with their children in common? Would you try and forge a friendship with your partner’s ex?
I have the utmost respect for any man or woman who can foster a healthy co-parenting situation because it shows character – their responsibility to their children never wavers despite relationship statuses.
It’s a serious issue given the probability that we will either have a child by someone we eventually separate from, or date or become seriously involved with someone who has one or more children from a previous relationship. Avoiding people with children is another option, but it becomes a challenge once you’re over 30.
What are your thoughts? What has your experience been? What are your deal breakers as far as co-parenting situations?