I’ve been giving the issue of co-parenting, custody and the “best interest of the kids” a lot of thought recently.
I know so many people who kick themselves for having had children with the father or mother of their children.
I haven’t yet met someone who is a single parent by choice (as opposed to widowed) and is co-parenting with their “baby-daddy” or “baby-mama” who hasn’t at least once entertained the thought of “Oh my God, how could I actually have had children with this human being!?! My children are doomed!”
Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve met a couple who is still together and hasn’t thought that at least once! These feelings are obviously much stronger and more frequent when you are no longer in a loving partnership.
It becomes very difficult during such times to know what’s in the best interest of your kids.
Here’s what I return to … though honestly sometimes it can take a while to get back to this kind of thinking if I’m really riled up.
1. So long as my kids are physically safe, it is in their best interest to have a great relationship with their dad.
2. It is my job to empower my kids to deal with anything that comes their way in life and to look within themselves for their values.
3. I trust that inherently my kids know what feels right and what doesn’t and if I give them the tools to connect with their own internal barometer of rightness, they can adapt to all situations and events and learn from every experience – even those experiences I’d rather they didn’t have.
So, what can you do in those moments when you are cursing the day you decided to have kids with your “baby-daddy” or “baby-mama”?
– ask yourself how you can support your ex to be the best parent he or she can be without having to control the situation?
– make the decision to learn strategies to co-parent together — it may mean you have to go to a class or a therapist together. There are many great options.
– this one is the hardest, but if you can do it, you will feel great. Concede, even when you are in the right and realize that when you are not dug into a position, but instead flexible and kind (even when he or she is not!) that it’s better for your kids.
It takes a huge gulp of humble pie to do it, but afterwards I almost always feel liberated, light, and free. In contrast, as I’m kvetching over the whole thing before I’ve decided what to do and how to handle my feelings of massive consternation and guilt, I’ve got a massive pit in my stomach and a weight on my shoulders
I hope these guidelines provide some comfort to you the next time you are bemoaning the fact that you had children with your kids’ other parent – together or not.
© 2008 Alexis Martin Neely
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