The Continental Divide: Crossing the Co-Parenting Chasm

Leading With Empathy Despite The Struggle

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It’s hard being a parent.

It’s even harder to parent.

But one of my greatest challenges, has been co-parenting. 

Trying to do good by our son, while working with his dad to be a united front. If only it were as simple as writing that sentence.

In the beginning it was hard to not get lost in the stories, the emotions and overwhelming sense of loss. 

What will never be…

Feelings of failure and doubt. 

How to be a single parent? How to juggle the multitude of things on a daily basis? 

So many questions, that had no immediate answers.

The fear of what negative impact this will have on our son. Ruminating thoughts of how we’re scarring our son. Worrying how he will adapt (or not adapt) while moving between households.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it through with any semlance of a healthy co-parenting relationship.

I grieve, while trying to build a new family. A new normal. And my normal, is not his dad’s normal.

We have extremely different parenting styles and in an effort to balance, I swing the pendulum far to the other side. I become the disciplinary, where school work got done and nutrition and sleep are prioritized. I explain my reasons for implementing these things, but regardless, our son is not happy with my decisions. My home quickly becomes the “less fun” place to be. 

Photo credit: Katehonish @ Pixabay

Most days I found myself frustrated and anxious. 

I try to control his dad’s space by organizing activities and pleading with him to change his ways. This yields more distress, but it doesn’t stop me from trying, over and over and over again. 

The struggle is exhausting and with no change in sight, I feel defeated. 

The transition days are hard for our son. The contrast is great and he’s often angry when he returns to my home and back to routine. I remind him, I love him and that my job as a parent is to care for and guide him. That means, sometimes making tough decisions. 

Sometimes it’s really hard being a parent.

My incessant worrying continues…

But then something happens.

In a moment of vulnerability, his dad connects with me. He is going through a personal health crisis and reaches out as a friend, for help. He is uncertain what to do or where to go.

And in that moment, I see him. 

I see him as a human with flaws, with shortcomings, with his own lessons to learn. I see him as a person with a history rich with experiences that have helped shape who he is today. 

I see a man I was once in love with, who is the father to our amazing son. A man who loves his son and believes he is doing the best he can for him. 

I no longer see him as the enemy, but as a person with his own struggles. A person who is not perfect and continues to evolve.

And I feel for him.

This is the place from which everything changed. The place where we began to build a relationship that has helped our son grow into the amazing boy he is today. 

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