Happy Kids, Happy Life- A tale of co-parenting.

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My family and I attended the Maverick hockey game for the first time this season a few weeks ago. Walking through the hallways and running into familiar faces, a pattern developed rather quickly.  Eye contact, smiles, looks of confusion.  I could almost hear what they were thinking… “Wait, didn’t they get divorced?”

When we decided to end our marriage, one of the very first things we decided was that we were going to remain a team, and a family, before anything else. One family, two houses, was what we told our five year old over and over during those days.  The silver lining of my ex-husband growing up in a “traditional” divorced family, was that he knew exactly what he didn’t want to happen. No fighting in front of the kids, no making them pick sides, no bad-mouthing the other parent. Some days were going to be easy and some days were going to be (very) hard, but we were going to grin and bear it either way because we knew it was what was best for them. The two most important people in our life. 

This year, what was best for them was having birthday parties together, doing Sunday dinners when they ask us to, and opening presents from Santa on Christmas morning. We stopped to visit dad at work, and we sat together at sporting events as one big group.  We shared laughs over dinners. We had each other’s backs when life threw us some curveballs, and our kids got through a really tough transition and came out pretty dang well.  Being able to do things together made life for them, and certainly us, SO much less stressful. 

If you are reading this thinking it’s been all rainbows and sunshine though, that is certainly not the case. We are human, and this year of learning has also had its share of hard days. It had it’s arguments, tears, new family dynamics, sadness over splitting up holidays, and communication fails.  Here are some of the things I tried to keep in mind during the more trying times:

  • The first question we always ask is what is best for the kids. It doesn’t matter who’s day it is, or how frustrating certain situations can be if it’s best for them, we try our hardest to be flexible and make it work. 
  • I tried to use the 6 rule as much as possible: If it wouldn’t matter in 6 months, I tried to let it go. If it would, then I made sure it was known it was important to me.  
  • We were friends before we began our relationship.  This person has stood by me through some of the worst days of my life,  and although I think this is 100% the best decision for us,  we have been through too much life to not care about each other.  I try to think about the person he is outside of my ex-husband, and we try to keep our friendship as strong as possible.  
  • When we do disagree? I take a pause, and I can not recommend this enough. I journal. I go for a long bike ride/run.  I rage clean.  I give myself time to get my emotions in check and make sure I’m handling the situation with a clear mind. 

Again, we are learning as we go, but looking back at last year, I’m proud of us. Thankfully, we are surrounded by other families that are happily co-parenting, and it makes me so happy to see the stigma of divorced families changing.   Here’s to all of you who have guided the way for us!

1 COMMENT

  1. Inspirational post Mandy! For the families that are broken due to addiction, effective co parenting is almost unheard of.
    I am jealous of you and all the families that are able to have this type of relationship with their ex for the kids sake.

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