I am so sick of the term Co-Parenting. You cannot imagine the number of times my ex, as well as my husbands ex, has told us that we must Co-Parent with them. How can we possibly co-parent with people whom we have so many issues? If we were all so adept at co-parenting we may not all be divorced (well actually we would, but you get the point).
Are there truly that many ex-spouses out there that get along so well that parenting together works? Out of all the divorced couples who I know that share children, there is only one I can think of where co-parenting actually works. I know I was raised in a family where my parents divorced when I was 7 years old, and I am positive they did not co-parent. In fact, I do not believe that my parents have said one word to each other since I was 9 years old. Some how I managed to survive my childhood and share all pertinent information with both of my parents.
Now here I am, 35 years old and dealing with my own set of exes, whom I wish to never speak with again. You cannot imagine the drama and turmoil they have caused in our lives. There was the several months that the exes began dating each other and thought that was a terrific idea–no I am not kidding. My ex-husband dated my current husband’s ex-wife (after we became engaged to be married). Then there was the constant stream of 10-page emails trying to tell us what to do and how to live our lives. I think my favorite is the hate rag which is currently being published. This is where one ex-spouse goes on and on about how horrid we are and makes things up just to have a story. Can you imagine co-parenting with these people?
My husband and I did try to play nice in the beginning; however, it soon became a war we did not want. So we cut the exes off. We began to parent in our home and trust that they were parenting well in theirs. When I say trust, I am referring to a very loose translation. Maybe I better way to say it is we had to give up control and realize that as long as there was not something that a court would consider worth merit, we had to just let the other parents parent the way they see fit. Our time is our time, and their time is theirs. We cannot control how they do things and more than they can control how we do things.
Again, we were constantly being told we were wrong. That is not how you do things when you are divorced. You must CO-PARENT!!!!
So you can imagine the relief I felt yesterday when my husband came home with a new term which had been shared with him, “Parallel Parenting”. What is that? My mind was spinning with wonder. I had to know everything about this term, parallel parenting. It had the sound of something I was sure would work for us, even if the other parents still demanded “co-parenting.”
Psychologists describe the actions of children who do not have the skills to interact yet still play near each other as parallel play. These children are each doing their own thing with the shared toys but are ignoring each other. Similarly, parallel parenting are two parents caring for their children in the same area but separately.
For parents to parallel parent, they must disengage. This means that there is no communication between the two parents unless there is major information that must be shared. For example, your son breaks his arm, and you are taking him to the hospital, yes you would pick up the phone and call the other parent. The flip side of that is your daughter repeats things to you that have been said in the other parent’s home, no matter how angry you are, you do not get to call the other parent up and voice your opinion. You do not and will not squabble over your concerns. You will give the other parent critical information about your child, remembering that you do not get to debate over each other’s parenting style. For parents who cannot co-parent, as many parents can’t, this is a excellent solution, and quite simple.
You cannot imagine the amount of relief I feel knowing there is a term for what we have been doing. As silly as it sounds, I needed a straightforward way to communicate to the other parents (when confronted with lack of co-parenting) that we did not have to co-parent we were parallel parenting. This is exactly what we have been doing, but now I have a name for it. Parallel parenting is so much easier to say than “you do your thing, we do ours, and we stay out of each others business.” Not to mention, it is a real parenting style, that other people do, as well. And it works.
Now, that I have found my solution, I would love to hear what other parenting issues you have had. Have you been at a loss for how to handle situations with your exes? Have you found other solutions that work? Tell me all about it and I will share more with you.
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