I am a divorcee and my son lives with me. Thankfully, Dad has been very involved in raising him over the years. I shared some of our marital journey and ultimately the end of our marriage my first book “It’s My Life and I Live Here: One Woman’s Story“. Our son is now a pre-teen, and so the challenges have become more interesting.
What has reassured me is the fact that I know that one day, this season of parenting will come to an end. Children do grow up and become adults. I am also thankful that even with tumultuous moments, my son knows that I love him dearly and want nothing but the best for him.
So how do I handle the challenge of raising a boy when Dad does not live with us?
1. We communicate regularly. We stay in contact mainly via text messaging – thank God for technology! If there is an emergency, or if I need to fill him in quickly on something that is happening with our son, a quick text will keep him abreast. He usually responds quickly. If he doesn’t, I know he will when possible. If it warrants a phone call, I will call, or he will call.
2. We share similar parenting values. We agree on most things regarding our son. He is very bright, and tends to do what many children do, where they attempt to turn one parent against another or go to the other parent to get their way. We stopped that very early as we realized that raising him well in two households meant we needed to become one solid force. The message is the same from house to house. What I say is reinforced (even more!) when he is not with me.
3. We attend meetings in person or virtually on behalf of our son. The school knows Dad. Teachers have met him and know his thoughts on his son’s performance in school. When he is unable to attend meetings in person, we dial him in to participate. These actions send a clear message that our son has two very active parents in his life who love him and want what is best for him.
4. We take him to church. Our son knows when he is with either parent he will be in church. He is loved everywhere he goes, so he is always missed when he is in another location. I think that is one of the good things about 2 households. There are more people to love you!
5. We reinforce respect for the other parent. We never speak in a derogatory manner about each other to our son. He is reprimanded by either of us if he says anything about the other parent that is not appropriate, and his father reinforces the fact that he needs to help me as the “man of the house”. He has been teaching him some of what that looks like (such as helping to take out garbage, or helping to shovel snow, etc.).
I am very thankful for the way that our co-parenting story has evolved for us. I know that everyone does not share this story, but this has not been an easy journey. Prayer, patience, healing and forgiveness turned an ugly and bitter situation into something that is working well.
Do you have any co-parenting stories you would like to share with BMWK?