This is a guest post written by Kayla Housley from Lace, Superheroes, and Life.
I had my first son with a guy I met in college. We ended our relationship when I was five months pregnant and haven’t been together since. We had a messy break up that I didn’t think either one of us would ever recover from. Skip ahead six years and we are now best friends and awesome at co-parenting together. I know that a lot of people out there have a difficult time trying to co-parent with an ex, so I thought I would share some of the things I have learned after doing it for six years. I would say I’m pretty much a pro at this. (By the way, that’s me, my ex, and our son happily co-parenting when my son was about 3 years old. Go us!)
This is the most important lesson in co-parenting effectively. Sometimes you will both want your kid on the same day. You have to do what’s best for your child. Compromise is not easy. Parenting is a very give and take process. My son’s father and I have come to realize that fighting over the small things is pointless. Compromise is the best way to go. It keeps us from arguing and causing tension between ourselves. My ex has come to realize that holiday traditions are really important to me and my family. His family usually just wings it when it comes to the holidays, but my family is a stickler for keeping up with the traditions. I usually get our son on the biggest holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween. He usually has him for like New Years, Valentines Day, and the smaller holidays that we don’t do much celebrating on.
This is the second important lesson in co-parenting. Keep in pretty close contact. Keep up with what’s going on in your child’s life while they are away at their other parent’s house. I also like to keep my ex informed of what he does at my house. It’s a way to make sure that he stays on a pretty normal schedule and doesn’t live two different lives at two different places. You want them to have as stable and normal life as possible. My oldest has been going back and forth since he was one month old. He doesn’t know any differently.
KEEP A SCHEDULE.
If you have your child during the week, and it’s not too much of a drive, let their other parent take them on the weekends. It gives you the weekends off to relax and get some things done that you can’t do while your child is home. For the first four years of Boo’s life I had him one week and his dad would get him one week. Once he started school, I would get him Monday thru Friday and his dad would get him every weekend. If it’s quite a ways to drive to your ex’s house, meet somewhere in the middle. That’s what we do. When we only lived an hour away from him, I would drop him off at his dad’s house and his dad would bring him back home. Now that we live two hours apart we meet in a town about an hour away from each of us. Because I do not like the school system where I live, we had to flip our schedules so Boo lives with his dad Monday- Friday and I get him on the weekends, holidays, and during breaks.
STAY OUT OF COURT.
Unless it is absolutely necessary and you two just cannot get along like civilized adults, I never took my son’s father to court over child support or visiting arrangements. If you need money from your ex for your child, have a civilized conversation with your ex. Most real men that want to help take care of their child, will not have any problem helping out with groceries, clothes, school stuff, etc. Just be reasonable. If he only makes like $800 a week, don’t be asking him for like $600 a week. That’s not reasonable. Being reasonable is asking for enough money to help feed and clothe his child. It’s not his job to pay your rent, buy your food, buy your clothes. You lost those privileges when you two broke up. If you are having a hard time paying for something and you don’t have anybody else to turn to, then ask him for what you need. If it will affect his child having a roof over his head, I am sure he would be more than willing to help out. Just remember that your ex has to pay his bills too. Don’t drown him in child support.
NEVER USE YOUR CHILD FOR REVENGE.
Never threaten your ex by saying that they are not allowed to see their child, unless you have absolute proof that they are an unfit parent or you think your child is being abused. A child needs both of its parents. If you threaten to take away your ex’s parental rights you are not only hurting your ex, but you are also hurting your child. You must always remember that your child comes first. Just because your ex may not want to get back together, doesn’t mean you should ever hold that against your child.
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Another post that you will love by Kayla is Family Time Without Technology because let's be real we do not need are phones doing everything.