Co-Parenting: Let's make the best out of this.
Today Chance the Rapper made headlines in various news sources for settling his child support and custody battle with his 17-month old daughter’s mother. They came into an amicable agreement with very little lawyer involvement as to the living and monetary situation for the upbringing of his child. This is a rare occurrence as most child support and custody battles are draining, drama filled, and messy. For example, Ciara and Future spent much of 2016 battling in court with many messy media statements degrading each other.
I give you these two high profile examples because I want you to see even with money, it is a hard situation. Why is it so hard? Feelings, emotions, selfishness, pettiness, immaturity, and so much more. I hope you never find yourself in this position but if you do I want to share with you my story and mind state as to how I was able to partner up with my daughter’s father and create the best solution for us.
My daughter was only 7 months when things hit a wall. I decided to move back to my mother’s house until things got better both for me and my relationship. This was a very emotionally charged time but I made a conscious decision to leave for the best of my child. Once you realize that staying is doing you more harm than leaving you should find the strength to do it right. First advice is not to leave to fight. Do not leave to then go back and fight about the past, or fight about his actions now that you left. You leave to let it go. Leave with the mind state that you are going to grow out of this situation and that this is the best decision for your child. Second advice, this is for your child, focus on that. Your happiness trickles down to your child. Before I left I had no energy and spent my nights worrying and my days crying. See the thing is us women let emotions and bad times take a big toll on us. The big knot on our throats that don’t allow us to talk without crying or even put food down. The sluggish no energy mood we get from no sleep. That all needs to stop for the sake of your child, especially if your child is at an early age. How are you going to love your child if you are drowning in pain? Leave and focus on healing your scars from this situation so that you can find the love you need to nurture your baby.
Next is evaluate your partner. Do you now see this man being a part of your child’s life? Or are you forcing it? Once I knew my relationship was not repairable I asked a simple question. Do you want to be in your child’s life? Yes or No. Luckily I made a life for myself where if I needed to do this alone I could so for me it was the emotional affect it would take on my daughter. I didn’t have the best relationship with my own dad so I didn’t want her to go through the same. Her dad stepped up to the plate and signed up to be a part of her life despite our fall out.
So the next advice is put ground rules down and be fair. We set down rules on visitation, communication with her and myself, monetary assistance, and possibly every scenario that can happen. Even dating! We promised she always came first and then was respect for each other. Don’t get me wrong this whole process wasn’t easy. First struggle was that I let my feelings get in the way at the beginning and let jealousy set off some rage but I repeatedly checked myself. If you going to fight, why did you leave? Second struggle was that my mother who raised 3 kids on her own, thought me sending my 7 month old daughter with her father for the weekend was scary, but she supported me. I told her I wasn't a mother before this and I have learned to do it, so he should learn how to be a father as well. Plus I am just a call or cab ride away. I am happy I stuck to this because I have seen him raise her and their bond is so much stronger. My daughter trusts her dad as if he has always been in the same household.
During this process he also didn’t have a smooth start. As a first time dad he would forget certain things or not understand urgency of certain matters. He also was set in the mind state of he should only do what “most single dads did" instead of setting his own standards. We both were growing together and learning this new life style we set out but with communication we made it work. Fights were big and loud, but apologies made the respect and bond even stronger after.
Dating… now this is a big subject and I am going to be honest. When I found out he was dating I was mad. Not jealous, but mad that he moved on before I did. Petty stuff but hey sometimes you can’t control certain emotions. As a reaction I would act difficult at times but then I felt horrible about it. So again, I checked myself. I eventually did start to date and that was another can of worms. He wanted to meet the man I dated to put a face to who was around his child. I thought, if you trust me then trust that I will never put your daughter in harm. So no need to meet anyone that I am just dating. Let’s hold that off to when I get married and I consider another man a part of my family. And in this dating field, if we meet everyone we date how many people we plan on meeting. Who is to say anyone is the one now a days, so let’s just wait it out.
What I was jealous of was time. I was always on the move before my daughter and didn’t want being a mom to stop me from doing what I love. To go out and enjoy myself or travel. I hated that he had the chance to get up and go the majority of the week while I was confined to a schedule. I can only see my friends on my “free nights.” I let this get to me and became a bitch from time to time until I spoke up and explained it to him. Then we came to an agreement. If we need more time, or certain days, as long as we speak to each other with time we can make it work, and we have.
As for money, we have a very fair agreement but that I will leave up to you to think about. Financial situations are all different so it is hard to give certain advice. In general I like the 50/50 rule. Also if things are rocky at the beginning do what it takes to establish trust. I used to provide receipts and proof that anything I got went to our daughter’s expense. That is no longer the issue as he definitely understands the expenses but I did it so I can never hear anything negative as to how I spent money.
I am lucky my daughter’s father is madly in love with her and is in her life. It was a journey and every day is work but we have an amazing respectful relationship. Almost 3 years and we have been able to avoid court dealings and have establish a fair schedule for both. I can say we are truly partners and our focus is our daughter.
If I missed any topic on co-parenting that you wish me to discuss, if you want some advice on the topic, or just to share your experience please write to us on the contact me section.