Compassionate Co-Parenting

Co-parenting.Compassionate co-parenting. It sounds so Gwyneth, doesn’t it?

Compassionate co-parenting is like a decent sex-less marriage. Some days are really good and some days you just want to chop the other person up into little chunks and burn them to smithereens in the backyard. (Unrelated side note: Should I ever be on death row, my last meal would be El Palenque chips and salsa and a Shipleys’ pink frosted donut with sprinkles.) We are still living together, so I am sure things will shift a good bit when we have our own homes and a more routine schedule, but for now, you need to be nice. Nicer than you were when you were married. This past weekend, he got up with the kids and let me sleep in and I made him a cup of coffee and let him take a nap in my bed.


You need to smile and be kind. (Even if you are grinning through gritted teeth) You need to give space and not pry. (Don’t ask too many questions- it’s for your own good, I promise- and never snoop into phone or email accounts or social media) You need to respect their time and social life. (Don’t abuse your/their days with the kids) You need to be considerate when spending joint money. (We are still a one income house until July) You need to enjoy the other parent’s company enough to participate in family activities. (The smile on our kid’s faces when we are all together is totally worth the potentially awkward family dynamics.)


What I find the most difficult thing with compassionate co-parenting is the balance. You can neither hate nor love your ex-spouse. If you hate, you are bringing in negativity and resentment into the new parenting relationship. If you love, you won’t be emotionally ready to move on and re-define the parenting relationship. There is certain level of detachment that both parents must successfully reach, yet still care for the father or mother of their children in a very real and respectful way. I feel like it is walking a tightrope of emotional stability. You have to want to be around your ex-spouse enough to make family days happen and yet strong enough to walk away at the end of the day and be happy that you mutually decided on a divorce.


You loved this person once. At some point you lived a great love story with passion and commitment. At some point you planned to spend the rest of your God given days together. At some point you wanted to share that love and had a couple kids, gifting your genetic combinations with the world. You loved this person. We tend to forget that there was a beginning to our stories. It may have ended less than happily, but there was a time when you couldn’t imagine your life without this person. If you have children, you won’t. They are your family. Forever. Roles will redefine and feelings will change but you are a family. Sometimes a weird, uncomfortable, fucked-up family, but a family all the same.


Successful compassionate co-parenting, much like a successful marriage requires communication, hard work and compromise. So, if you weren’t good at it while you were hitched, you are still going to have to work your ass off at it while you are divorced. (And honestly, if you are getting a divorce- you probably were not good at it) We are not good at it. I am not good at it. Unfortunately, you don’t get to just sign along the dotted line and walk your separate ways. When there are children involved, it is never that simple. You put aside you own insecurities and petty issues and take one for the team. (Or at least you try. Oh, God, I try. I fail most of the time, but I try.)


We filled out Packet One of the divorce papers last night. We had been getting along so well lately I really contemplated putting it off. Again. I didn’t want to rock the boat and bring up things, like a “morality clause”. I didn’t want to argue over who gets the kids on what holiday. (Just in case you were wondering, he has even years and I have odd years.) We hope to attend the holidays together, but you know, worst case scenario and all…


We will make it through this, just like we have made it through everything else.


2 thoughts on “Compassionate Co-Parenting

  1. That’s the way this parenting thing is supposed to work, whether parents are together or not. It’s hard; sometimes we don’t do it right. But more often, we do. You are So Smart, and you – and your beautiful kids – will get through this! Hug them & kiss them often (which I know you do) – but also hug yourself. You are awesome!


  2. Pingback: Compassionate Co-Parenting, Part 2. | memoirs of a modern mom

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