4 Ways To Co-Parent With Your EX
When I became pregnant with my first child, my relationship with the father after 6 years had finally hit one of the darkest valleys I could ever imagine. At the time, I felt like my daughter couldn’t have come at a worse time. Guilt. Defeat. Fear. Anxiousness. All these emotions ran through my thoughts like a rollercoaster. I had always envisioned giving my child a two-parent home just like the privileged kids you see on T.V or read about in magazines. The reality was, I let fear mold my thoughts instead of being confident that God had a plan for us.
Fast forward, I buried those emotions the day I heard her first laugh. I mean, my daughters laugh felt so equivalent to hearing God for the first time in my life. The real task at hand wasn’t being the perfect mother, or burying my emotions so that I could fake a happy home. No. It was how to tackle my new norm with confidence so that my daughter could live the happiest life that I could possibly give her. Co-parenting became my new normal. It took so much time and effort but we finally got it together for the sake of our princess. So many women go through what I went through that I felt obligated to express what I’ve learned in this whole process.
In the beginning, I harbored so much resentment towards my child’s father that we couldn’t even hold a conversation without it turning into flames. Simply put, I was still angry we didn’t work out as a couple. Who wouldn’t be? I gave him almost 6 years of my life. I felt like I had every right to be angry. In turn, I carried that anger into out co-parent relationship. I had to not only forgive him for things that occurred prior to the birth of my daughter, but I also had to forgive myself for the parts I played a role in as well. As black women, we tend to always blame the black man for things that go wrong in the relationship without taking a good look in the mirror and deciphering what role we play in it as well. Yes we are queens, but that does not mean we are perfect.
There’s now a new life that completely depends on you. Every move you make, every obstacle you face, WILL affect your child. If you were never required in your life to be selfless before, having a child will be your reality check. A big one at that. Sure, it’s easy to tell someone else they can’t participate in the upbringing of a life YOU carried for nine months. I’m here to tell you, that’s not reality. Society paints this picture that a child doesn’t need a father. This couldn’t be any more false. Think about it this way, If children didn’t need their fathers, wouldn’t we be able to reproduce asexually? No shade, but no matter how much you may now dislike the person you decided to create life with, you will need them more than ever through this journey.
This one may be the most difficult thing to do. (Yes even harder than forgiveness) Sometimes we feel this huge amount of entitlement in the minority community simply because of our history and upbringing. This then trickles down into the way we talk to people. Let me blunt. Because we are under so much pressure to be ‘the strong, independent black woman”, sometimes we lack humility. This then translates into bad communication skills. I know what you’re thinking. “After everything he put me through, you want me to talk to him with respect?”…..well yes…yes that is exactly what I’m saying. Whether you respect your co-parent or not, it’s important you show your child the fundamentals of respect. There will come a time in your child’s life where they must show respect even when they don’t want to. Whether it’s at a job or school, it will happen. Be the example.
Understand you did not create this life on your own. Yes, you carried this life for nine months, gave up your favorite bad habits, and sacrificed your body to bring this life into the world. However, you are only 50% responsible for the artistry of this wonderful little creation. Compromising is going to be hard. There’s going to be times you don’t want to hear anything about compromising a damn thing. Put your pride aside and try your damnedest to find a middle ground for any and everything that has to do with your child. Create a weekly or monthly schedule that works for both of you. This includes holidays. Doing this will also eliminate petty arguments about who’s turn it is to pick your little one up from school, or practice etc. Remember to create a plan and stick to it.