Hi, my name is Janai, and I am one half of a co-parenting team, supposedly. Google’s definition of “Co-parenting” is to share the duties of parenting a child. It notes this term is mainly used in situations where the parents are separated or not married. It does not say you have to like each other, always agree with each other or even be amicable. It’s not easy raising a child, let alone doing it between two different households and two starkly different people, but that is the situation I am currently in.
In all honesty, my frustration is not with the idea of “Co-parenting,” but the fact that sometimes it’s really single parenting in disguise. This has been my recent experience, as well as that of others I know who are raising their child(ren) in two separate households. One parent (usually the primary keeper of the child) is left to take care of the day to day tasks, financial responsibility, sacrifices that come with being a full time parent, and criticized when things don’t go smoothly. The other parent is free to make decisions without any regard to how it will affect the child’s primary home life, ignore any issue that is not convenient for them, and provide only times of fun and games for the child. One has to be responsible by default while the other is responsible when they feel it suits them.
However frustrating this situation is, I am not going to complain or go into the fairness, or lack of, in the matter. What I realized after the most recent co-parenting challenge I faced is no matter who contributes to my child’s life, it is my responsibility as his parent to provide as much love, structure and consistency as I can. I have to do everything I can to make sure my child’s needs are taken care of regardless of the decisions made by my “co-parent”. I, like everyone else, can only control what I do. This does not lessen my frustration in the moments when I feel the full affects of this struggle, but it does help keep me from losing perspective, and that is my child’s safety being first and foremost.
So if you’re in a frustrating co-parent situation, just remember you can only do what you can, and you can only control yourself. Your child will see you and the love you give them. Take a breath, and keep pushing. (This is what I tell myself anyways).
Grace and peace