So many times we think we are doing the best we possibly can when working with our exes regarding our children. A lot of times we think we can’t do any better, or that we have exhausted all efforts. Both of those statements could not be any more false. I speak from personal experience when I say both parties can always do better.
To be frank, when it comes to our kiddos we can always do a thousand times better. Good is not good enough. Co-parenting is never easy. I could speak on this topic for hours because I have seen every side of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Something we forget to do is put ourselves in our kids’ positions and try to see what co-parenting looks like through their eyes. Walk a moment in their shoes and I guarantee you will realize you need to step up your game…
My oldest daughter is at an age where she picks up everything. She can sense tension, anger, stress, and just about every single emotion in the book. She can tell when her dad, stepmom, and I are on good terms or otherwise. I’ve recently realized that she seems to be carrying the concerns of an adult and how unfair that is for her.
What we think we are doing correctly and what she is seeing are two totally different things in two totally different worlds. She was used to a mom and dad who communicated clearly, laughed, and had a friendship that centered around her. Now, she has a parental group that hardly speaks, acts awkwardly around each other, and honestly seems a little cold. How is that doing our best? In her eyes and in reality, it’s not, because she doesn’t understand what has changed.
What she is seeing is Mom’s House vs. Dad’s House and the dynamic shift when she bounces from one to the other. Even though we aren’t deliberately out to get each other or hateful towards one another, the shift happens. She feels responsible over “How can I make Daddy and Mommy feel OK?”
I don’t know why she carries this worry because I always make sure she knows our burdens are not her issues. But obviously, what we are presenting is not our best and it is stressing her out. She has asked me why we don’t talk like we used to anymore. And what’s crazy is that she’ll talk to me about all of her concerns but doesn’t want her dad or stepmom to have hurt feelings.
A child doesn’t see the adult issues for what they are. They can’t see that moms and dads have to go to court (as much as it hurt us to do so). For us, it was damaging to our friendship and parental relationship. What a child sees, instead of the repercussions of a behind-the-scenes fallout, is mommy and daddy not sitting together at her school plays. In her eyes, we are simply being unfriendly.
A child also cannot put together the complications of having “too many cooks,” which sometimes happens when you have a group of parents who all love the child so much. For them, it’s just fighting they don’t understand. Why can’t we all just get along? It’s stressful, and that isn’t stress they should carry.
Our Goal Needs to Be the Same
There are so many families out there dealing with these issues, and it is so difficult because you have 2 families trying to work together. But the ideas, childcare, communication efforts, and just about everything else are usually polar opposites. That isn’t always the case, but 9 times out of 10 it is.
My point is, the kids (no matter how messy or ugly the situation may be) should never be put in the middle, because they don’t see things the way we do. They see the outer layer and not the many layers underneath. Their little hearts and minds cannot comprehend such complications.
Take care of your littles by taking care of your co-parenting techniques and remember your best can always better! There is no secret to having a perfect co-parenting relationship, but you can definitely strive for one. At the end of the day, we all just love our kiddos so very much, so our goal needs to be the same: raising a happy, healthy, loved child that has memories of adults who worked together to get them to where they need to be!