Ann Rouse got divorced when she found out she was pregnant. The marriage wasn’t working and she wanted to be a good mom. Now she counts the co-parenting relationship she has with her ex as one of the positive changes from the divorce.
My ex had a daughter from another marriage and so while we were married, I was a step-parent. I didn’t think he was a good father to her so I’ve been pleasantly surprised that he’s doing better with our son than he did with her.
One of my successes is that I’ve been able to put aside my unhappiness with him, my frustrations, the things I don’t like about him and to work amicably with him – it’s not always good but it is civil. Growing up, my siblings and I were put between our parents a lot. They always talked bad about each other and they hated each other for 40 years. That helped me too see how awful it was. So I don’t talk bad about my ex and I don’t point fingers or blame and I think that helps him not to get defensive. I try to keep it as positive as possible. There’s only been one or two times in the last five years where he’s said he can’t take our son when I’ve called and asked. And he’s always very willing to meet me halfway instead of one of us having to drive all the way.
My ex is the kind of person that if he felt threatened or too put in a corner he’d probably high-tail it. I don’t know that he’d go anywhere but he wouldn’t be as involved. I do think it’s important to have both parents involved and to be the best role models you can because even if you’ve got a bad parent, you are still attached to them. They shape you.
It’s been good for me to see that the divorce has helped both of us because I think we were in this drag each other down, strangle each other’s throat space. He’d become too dependent on me to make decisions and I’d become too frustrated with him for not wanting to do his own thing or make his own choices.
About a year before I started to think that divorce was an option for me, a friend asked me if I’d considered divorce. I said no because it wouldn’t make much difference – I’d still have to work with my husband on parenting our children. I was wrong about divorce not making a difference to my life – it did make a big difference and for the better. But I wasn’t wrong about working together on parenting and I totally agree with Ann about the importance of both parents being involved. I think for me, limiting my interaction with my ex to solely those matters involving the children, has enabled me to ignore everything else that used to upset and irritate me. Now, for the most part, those things don’t impact me and I don’t have deal with them. And without that baggage we can focus on what’s best for the children.
Recently, I came across a step-parenting coach – Claudette Chénevert – she has a blog and in her post looking for step-families to test-drive her program she quotes psychologist Judith Wallerstein saying what really affects children of divorce is not necessarily the divorce itself but how adults deal with it.
Have you and your ex been able to work out a successful co-parenting relationship? What are some the ways you’ve been able to do that?