Working Together Without Being Together
Co-Parenting by definition is (especially of a separated or unmarried couple) to share the duties of parenting a child (or children).
A 2014 review estimated that 40 percent of children in the United States live in a variety of situations, many of which involve co-parenting. The 2020 Census Population Survey estimated 9.8 million one-parent households (7.5M mother only and 2.4M father only).
Co-parenting only works when you work it; and since it exists especially with separated or unmarries couples, it's important to remained focused on working together to raise your child(ren).
Many times once a relationship goes sour our feelings are raw! We are still trying to figure out what went wrong in the relationship, who is to blame, how you could've saved the relationship, etc. Now let's be honest, healing as an individual after a relationship ends is very important, but ensuring that child(ren) aren't negatively impacted by the break-up is also important.
We've all had at least one in our lives; that co-worker that works our last nerve! Do you recall how hard it was to work with them? But guess what? You made it happen! Use that same energy with co-parenting after a break-up if you can. Focus on the job and not the person.
One of the mistakes my son's father and I made early in our co-parenting journey was that we were trying too hard to be friends that we didn't focus on being parents. That made co-parenting difficult for us in the beginning. When we didn't want to speak, or if we were still upset about the demise of our relationship, it impacted our co-parenting. However, after awhile, we realized we had to grow up. We wanted our son to be able to see both of his parents getting along, even if we were no longer a couple. It took a lot of work to get where we are today, so I am living proof that it only works if you work it!
When you are co-parenting, you must learn to separate the personal from the parental. What I mean by this is that you have to forget what the person did to you and focus on what the parent needs to do for the child(ren) involved. Yes, they hurt you, maybe they betrayed you, or you both grew apart, but who they are/were in a romantic relationship is irrelevant to who they are (and can be) as a parent. Separating is not easy in the beginning - trust me, I know! But eventually it'll become second nature. Because......say it with me.....it only works if you work it!
As for my co-parenting journey, once we were able to get a handle on focusing on our son, we eventually were able to regain a solid friendship. We can now call each other and just talk, even though most of our conversations are about our son. There is no true tension between us., but when we have issues pertaining to our son, we work them out - together!
I can remember my son's father having stuff going on in his personal life, and I would have to remind myself "Jazz, that ain't your business!". Because at the end of the day, let's be real, if we didn't have a son together, we would've stopped talking to each other once we broke up. Knowing that fact, my primary focus with him is our son. We have a friendship but we also have clear boundaries. Neither of us are interested in getting back together. We have both grieved our romantic relationship and keep our focus on raising our son to the best of our ability.
There should be a certain level of understanding when it comes to co-parenting. Each parent should be heard. Each parent's opinion should matter. Each parent should assist in the upbringing of the child. That's what co-parenting is all about!
Deciding whether the two parents will try to work on their relationship is a separate topic from co-parenting. Usually when two people are co-parenting, the decision has already been made to not try to rekindle the romantic relationship - try not to blur those lines if you can help it. Try not to "double back" to the romantic area because it can cause confusion within the co-parenting relationship.
The main focus is to remain focused on raising your child(ren). Your child(ren) are watching. Each parent is unconsciously showing their child(ren) the first standards of communication and interaction with others. If the co-parenting relationship is healthy and positive, it is likely that your child(ren) will have healthy and positive relationships are they grow into their own person.
Lead by example. Show your child(ren) that it is possible to work together without being together!
2020 Census Population Report