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The Co-Parenting Gap

The controversy between communication, compromises, and fairness

Reality is, not everyone plans to have children, but the relationship between mothers and fathers are fractured, too often, even between those who do. From personal experience to a fair broad perspective, the dive to shine a light on the co-parenting gap is essential for those who look to repair alliances (or don't) with whom they share a wonderful child with and give our kids a fighting change at a balanced, loving life.

It's safe to say that communication, compromise, and fairness are main factors to a strong co-parenting relationship. It isn't easy or pretty, but who said it was? Any good parent's main concern are the children, and doing what's best for them first. You would think that if both parent's had the same intention, co-parenting would be easy, or at least civil. Sadly, that isn't the case for many. What can possibly get in the way? For starters, financial stability, or the lack of, jealousy, competition, expectations, and resentment. I can go on, but we'll end it there. What do all of these have in common? SELF.

The issues that dwindle the possibility of a strong co-parenting relationship, are all derived from ourselves. For better understanding, it is only I who can extinguish the feeling of jealousy and resentment. I can evaluate my expectations and be more realistic about them. I can do something about my financial hardships. I can also choose to work together, rather than compete with the other parent, right? Easier said than done, but the lack of maturity in a person can oftentimes include feeling joy in causing troubles and discomfort to the other person, despite how it may affect our children. Also, some people are just not willing to budge. Unfortunately, all this can hamper a relationship that could have effective communication, willingness to compromise, and fairness regardless of gender or status. So, how do we bridge the gap and foster these facets that have the potential to make co-parenting much easier and probably enjoyable?

Strategies that I find significant and positively altering:

  1. Establish open communication

  2. Be flexible and willing to compromise

  3. Set clear boundaries and expectations

  4. Stay committed to growth

It isn't uncommon to have a situation where only one parent is being flexible, communicative, fair, and forthcoming with all it would take to co-parent effectively, so the children can be happy, safe, and emotionally intact. For the same reasons I mentioned in the beginning, it just isn't working with the other parent and they're using tactics to cause stress, hurt, and overall make things difficult because of their own personal reasons. In this case:

  1. Document agreements

  2. Seek mediation or counseling

  3. If no means to an end to the drama, get consultation from a family lawyer (there are offices that provide free one-time consultations for 30 mins to an hour, so you can make well thought-out decisions on how to move forward)

Custody Disparities and Stigmas

Unfortunately, the system has made a lasting impression that father's have little to no say when it comes to their children. Statistics and studies have shown just that, but times are changing and the increase in fathers being the custodial parent for their children illustrates it. Also, states are slowly moving away from "mother state" status and considering fathers and fairness much more. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018, fathers were custodial parent's at 20.1 percent, compared to 16.0 percent in 1994. There are at least 20 states that grant 50/50 shared custody for divorced parents, and most unmarried parents file for joint custody as well.

It's important for fathers to find their voice and speak up for themselves and their child(ren). It's common for parents to try to work things out in the beginning without involving the court, because no one wants to put children through any type of discomfort. Although, it's not unheard of for women to take advantage of their position as a mother and continue to make father's feel like they have no say and have the inability to provide like a mother can. So, it is always important for men to be aware of their parental rights, really try to go about things the right way, document everything, keep the children as the priority, and don't be ashamed to seek help for yourself, as well. Parenting isn't easy for anyone, especially when you're going at it alone (usually the case if you have negative people around you too). Seek counseling or mentorship, so you can learn better communication skills, coping skills, and more.

In an ideal world, men and women would take their time before having children, so children can thrive with both parents at home. Who knows, we may find ourselves in a world like that again, but for now, awareness will help both mom and dad be their best, even if things did not work out between them.

To all mom's and dad's who are co-parenting, be honest, be fair, and put your children first.



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