The Challenges of Co-Parenting through Separation
The challenges of co-parenting through a separation have become commonplace in black and brown communities for decades. You are in a hot and heavy relationship when all the sudden you get the news, she says “I’m pregnant!” Oh, and by the way, you are about to become a father. Let’s assume you are in a serious relationship with your lady and super excited about fatherhood. Life is going great for you and the mother of your child. You and she have plans to spend the rest of your lives with each other and the universe has aligned with the heavens. Fast forward – the baby has arrived and now you’re a family! When the baby arrives, the dynamics of the relationship is changing. You are no longer just lovers or sex buddies, on the contrary, you are now sharing the responsibilities of parenting. Now you are a husband, father, and Man of the house, in this new family. You plan on being the best man, father, and husband in the world for your family, however, since the dynamics of the relationship has changed, you and she are not working out and now the family is broken. As men, we fail to take notice of the signs of the relationship failing. Some of the signs include infidelity, domestic abuse, displacement anger, or just simply not listening to your significant other. No matter the issue, everyone is affected by this dramatic change, especially the children. Now you must become co-parents while living in two separate households.
MAJOR AREAS of the construct of Co-Parenting
- Conflict– Agreement/Disagreement on how the child should be raised. This is a major issue when it comes to parenting styles and which style is best for the children. Parenting styles may differ from each parent. These differences may cause conflict due to both parents feeling that one style is better than the other. In turn, the household rules in each place may be different in each home; the different rules are bound to cause conflict in the parent-child relationship.
- Cooperation – Sharing the sense of parenting responsibilities.
Both parents must understand that they are equally responsible for the caring and responsibility of their children. According to HelpGuide.org “The key to successful co-parenting is to separate the personal relationship with your ex from the co-parenting relationship” (HelpGuide, 2018). In addition, the parents must respect and valve each other’s decisions as parents.
- Triangulation – Joint family management of interactions.
This concept is very important, both parents must understand how triangulation works. Children may still want both parents to spend time together and be a family. It’s very important to show unity in the family; however, the parents must understand the boundaries of co-parenting. Accordingly, “Making shared decisions, interacting with each another at drop-offs,
or just speaking to a person you’d rather forget all about can seem like impossible tasks.
Despite the many challenges, though, it is possible to develop an amicable working
relationship with your ex for the sake of your children” (HelpGuide, 2018).
When the mother and father are no longer together they must be cognizant of the parent-child relationship they have with their children.
At the end of the day, co-parenting is when two adults do what is necessary for the well-being of raising their children. A man can be a great father but a poor husband, vice versa. Even though our situation is not the best, time heals old wounds and people mature for the most part. In order to have a success a co-parenting foundation, both parents must exhibit the following:
- Be Mature: Set hurt and anger aside; separate feelings from behavior.
- Be Respectful: Do not talk bad about the other parent in front of the children.
- Be Consistent: Have the same rules in each household so the child does not become confused.
- Communicate: Be on the same page! Remember, it is about the children!
- Co-Parent as a team: Set rules, schedules, and stay disciplined.
- Make visitations easier: Have a system in place for when your child leaves and comes home.
Remember, it takes a village. As men in the physical form, we must learn to become men both emotionally and mentally. Women can guide us to this goal but we must allow them to do so. We come from the womb of a woman so we should not be ashamed to allow a woman to guide us in our completion of manhood. This concept also attributes to the maturation of women as well. If we do not help each other, we will all suffer in the end.
HelpGuide. (2018, October). Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents: Making Joint Custody Work After a Divorce or Separation. Retrieved from helpguide.org: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/parenting-family/co-parenting-tips-for-divorced-parents.htm/
Serani, D. (2012, March). The Do’s and Don’ts of Co-Parenting Well: Effective problem solving can help you avoid getting depressed. Retrieved from Psychologytoday.com: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201203/the-dos-and-donts-co-parenting-well
Article was written by Derek Bernard (founder, AVOF) and Troy Hughey (AVOF Editor and Law & Political Correspondent)
Edited by Troy Hughey (AVOF Editor and Law and Law & Political Correspondent)